Memorial Day

A Sacred Day of Remembrance for our Military and our Country.

Memorial Day: A Sacred Day of Remembrance for our Military and our Country

Observed on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a time for Americans to honor and pay tribute to the people who gave their lives defending our nation and its values. Similarly, Veterans Day recognizes those who have served in the military, both living and deceased, and is celebrated on November 11th each year. Armed Forces Day, celebrated on the third Saturday of every May, recognizes and honors those currently serving in our military. While all three holidays are important for honoring and remembering those who have served and are serving in the military, they each represent a specific group of our country’s finest. Memorial Day specifically focuses on paying tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day has its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War. In the years following the war, communities throughout the United States began holding tributes to the fallen soldiers who had died in the conflict. These tributes often involved decorating the graves of the soldiers with flowers, wreaths and other more personal items. There are several different accounts of the first Memorial Day and towns from many states claim theirs was the first to celebrate. Overlooked for many years is a celebration in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1865. Formerly enslaved black residents, in response to 257 Union prisoners being buried in unmarked graves, joined together to give the men a proper burial. Beginning on approximately April 21st, about two dozen African Americans put the graves into rows and built a 10-foot-tall fence with an archway reading “Martyrs of the Race Course”.

Their celebrations to honor these soldiers included a parade, sermons and songs, picnics, speeches from Union Officers and drills performed by both white and black Union Regiments. The first national observance of Memorial Day was on May 30, 1868, when General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Union veterans, declared it a day to decorate the graves of Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War. This day was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle. In 1869 Congress declared May 30th a National Holiday. Over time, the observance of Memorial Day expanded to include the honoring of all Americans who have died in military service and a 1968 law moved it to the last Monday in May; enacted in 1971 when Memorial Day officially became the National Holiday we celebrate today.

Memorial Day holds a special significance for veterans as it is a day to honor and remember the sacrifices made by their comrades who have died in military service. For many veterans, Memorial Day is a sacred day of remembrance. It is a day to honor their memories, to express gratitude and often to grieve. So, understandably, Memorial Day is a deeply meaningful and solemn occasion in the military. It is honored in numerous ways around the country. Flags are flown at half-staff until noon as a sign of respect and mourning for the people who died serving our country. Many communities hold ceremonies and memorial services to honor the fallen such as parades, speeches, presentations and moments of silence. These events are a way to show support for the families of the fallen and to pay tribute to those who are being remembered. "Flags In," as it’s called in the Military, is a tradition where military personnel and volunteers place American flags on the graves of fallen service members; this is a way to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Phoenix is home to several military veterans, and so Memorial Day is an especially important and revered day within our company. Please join us in expressing both recognition and everlasting gratitude for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the freedoms we all enjoy.