Jacquie’s Corner: What Is Decoration Day? What Is Memorial Day?

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt, United States Navy Veteran

Memorial Day arrives and leaves within a 24-hour period leaving memories, some exuding happiness, some bring sadness, which linger on and on throughout the year. On this day, flags, the Red, White and Blue, wave outside our homes, outside office buildings, and other places as far as our eyes can see on this designated day. Flowers are placed on all the graves, the North and the South, East and West, throughout our country. A day of Remembrance. A special day we remember and not forget our sons, daughters, our friends, and families who died in combat defending our nation, the United States of America.

Flowers for all

On April 26, 1866, people across the South threw flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers. Flowers decorated the Yankee graves as well and appeared everywhere. This story made the news back then.

Flowers were not quite bloomed in April up North; therefore, May 30 became a federal holiday, and people could decorate the graves of the fallen men and women. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an order for the annual decoration of war graves. The first large observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., and has continued each and every Memorial Day.

An Act called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect, and it was mandated that federal holidays occur on Mondays and made Memorial Day the last Monday in May. This custom has long since been formalized in the creation of Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day). Traditionally, every year the President of the United States (or in his absence, another high-ranking government official) visits Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Memorial Day to honor all those Americans who lost their lives fighting for our country. A symbolic wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is an honor to witness.

On Memorial Day we thank our military members, those who have served our country, came home to our families and friends, and for others who fought and lost their lives for our country, the United States of America. May God Bless them near and far. Let us pray for them, not only on one day a year, Memorial Day, but every day of the year.

Being a veteran myself of the United States Navy, along with my husband John, my relatives and great friends who served for our country, I researched some of the above information.

Let’s give thanks and pray for our military who are fighting for our country, the United States of America. And pray they return home to their loved ones safely.