Memorial Day -- also called Decoration Day -- has been a U.S. tradition since 1868. After the Civil War, local groups in individual towns would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers in May, when flowers were in bloom. By 1868, a group of Union generals and other officers recommended that commemorations be adopted nationwide on May 30. The national holiday was not established officially until 1971, however. There are many other historical details about Memorial Day on the web site of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Families and friends continue the tradition of visiting the graves of fallen soldiers on this day. For many of us, however, Memorial Day is just a pleasant, long weekend for relaxing, traveling, shopping or chores. If the weather is good, we might barbecue.
This year, my family and I plan to attend a Memorial Day ceremony organized by my father-in law and a group from his local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW does this every year. My father-in law, who served wtih the Marine Corps in Korea, continues to direct this annual tribute. "Somebody's gotta do it," he says.
To those who have served and to those who have lost loved ones, thank you for your service and for your sacrifice.
A soldier places flags on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Flags at Arlington National Cemetery, on Memorial Day