In Memory

Next Monday in the United States, we will celebrate Memorial Day. Many think of it only as a three-day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. Backyard cookouts, picnics, and trips to the beach are common. Yet many take for granted what the holiday is all about.

Unlike Veterans Day, which is to honor the living who serve or have served in the military, Memorial day is a time to remember those who died in service to our country. It was first known as Decoration Day and began after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in battle. Over two dozen cities and towns lay claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day; however, President Andrew Johnson officially declared Waterloo, New York as its birthplace in May 1866.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. Five-thousand participants decorated the graves of the Union and Confederate Soldiers buried there. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday and by 1890 all northern states had joined in the recognition. Sadly, the southern states refused to acknowledge it until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring only those who died in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died in all wars.

The original May 30 was changed to the last Monday in May when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. Some, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, advocate returning to the original date to honor the true significance of the holiday.

So when we enjoy our three-day weekend or backyard cookout, let’s not forget to remember and honor those who lost their lives in service to our country.

  • American Revolutionary War—25,000
  • War of 1812—15,000
  • Mexican American War—13,283
  • American Civil War—625,000
  • World War I—116,516
  • World War II—405,399
  • Korean War—36,516
  • Vietnam—58,151
  • Persian Gulf War—294
  • Iraq War—4,488
  • Afghanistan—2,229
  • And those who have died in all other wars
  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Joan, I love all your posts with facts! Always something to learn here!
    Bless you, my friend!

    • Thank you, Katina! I’m glad you enjoy them. I learn a lot through writing posts like these.

      Blessings!

  • Michele Jones

    Thanks for sharing. I love getting little known facts.

    • Michele, I’ve enjoyed gathering these facts and I’ve learned a lot from doing so.

  • kathunsworth

    A great reminder Joan, so many gave their lives and the world was forever changed. As is the case in all wars.

    • So true, Kath. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Sharon

    A great reminder to remember – always – all the people who have sacrificed so much for our country. I know that it’s easy to take for granted all the freedoms that we enjoy. But, there are people who have fought, and continue to fight, for us to have the privilege of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    May we show our gratitude with our words and our actions.

    GOD BLESS!

    • Sharon, you are so right. It’s easy to take these things for granted. I was discussing this with a co-worker a few days ago. He’s originally from Romania which was under communist rule for many years. It’s sad that we in America often take our freedom for granted.