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Jim Gearhart Reflects on the History of Memorial Day

Flags to fly at half staff today for United States Army Sergeant Gollnitz
Markus Leiminger, Getty Images

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in battle. While Waterloo, N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th 1868by then General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army f the Republic, in the general order No. 11 and the first observance. It is not celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May. Celebrating on the Monday ensures that a 3-day weekend is observed for Federal holidays.

Unfortunately the traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten he meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of those fallen have become increasingly ignored whereas they used to be decorated with American flags and the like. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in quite some time. There are those who take Memorial Day to honor the dead, not just those in battle.

To assist people in remembering, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in December of 2000 which asks at 3pm local time, for all Americans to “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of silence to remember and respect and pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or otherwise listening to ‘Taps.’

For some more background information on this very special holiday, you can go to

How do you remember Memorial Day?

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