Monday is Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the memory of American men and women who died while serving in our nation’s military. It was first called Decoration Day with the intention of urging people to decorate the graves of Americans killed during the Civil War.
Originally set for May 30, the official date is now the last Monday in May. The Uniform Holiday Act – which covered four federal holidays – created a three-day weekend which is now considered the unofficial beginning of summer.
Some people have objected to the change, arguing that it turns what had been a solemn day of observance into an extended party more connected to barbecues and beer than to a memorializing of the sacrifice made by over 1.1 million U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen since 1775.
Some ties to the original purpose remain. Flags are placed at graves in cemeteries in Garden Grove, Huntington Beach and Westminster as well in other cities in Orange County and across the nation.
Many businesses and most public buildings will be closed on Monday, and the Stars and Stripes are displayed at thousands of private homes across the area.
Memorial Day is distinguished from Veterans’ Day as the former honors those killed in war and the latter those living who have served in the military. We hope that all Americans can take at least a moment to recall how those men and women gave “the last full measure of devotion” – as Abraham Lincoln described it – on behalf the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free.