Memorial Day, a day to remember those who died in military service of our nation.

May 25, 2018

Memorial Day, a day to remember those who died in military service of our nation.

As Memorial Day approaches, it seems like a good time to reflect a little on the meaning of some of our American military holidays. In this day and age of social media, you see a lot of posts on Memorial Day thanking those who are currently serving in the military or thanking the veterans for their service. Of course, any day is an appropriate day to thank these men and women for their service to our nation. But, Memorial Day is really a sacred day reserved to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives while in the service of our Armed Forces. It seems that this important aspect of Memorial Day has gotten saturated over the years by the lack of understanding of what this holiday really is about.

Memorial Day was once originally known as Decoration Day and it originated in the years after the Civil War when towns and cities began holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

In 1868, General John A. Logan, who was a leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance on May 30 of that year. The date was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The holiday originally only honored those who had died in the Civil War. During World War I, the holiday, which started to become known as Memorial Day, honored all American military who died in war. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniformed Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

There are special days designated to honor the living who are serving or who have served in the military.

Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of May. It was created at the urging of President Harry Truman, who wanted one day to honor all the Armed Forces, instead of a separate day honoring each of the branches. On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The event stemmed from the armed forces’ unification under one department – the Department of Defense. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day too (the Marines Corps birthday is observed on Nov. 10). The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 20, 1950. 

If you want to honor a veteran on a particular day, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is your best bet. On June 4, 1926, Congress adopted a resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations to observe the armistice of World War I on Nov. 11. In 1938, Congress declared Nov. 11 as a legal holiday, Armistice Day. In 1954, Congress changed the name fo the holiday to Veterans Day.

Mason County to observe Memorial Day.

Several events are planned to observe Memorial Day in Mason County, on Monday, May 28.

 

Ludington: Parade starts at 10:15 a.m. from the Mason County Courthouse west on Ludington Avenue to Stearns Park.

Service at Stearns Park starts at 11 a.m. This year’s speaker is U.S. Coast Guard Chief Boatswin’s Mate (Chief) Mark Szoboszlay of Coast Guard Station Ludington .

 

Scottville/Custer/Free Soil: A service will be held at Mason County Central High School at 9 a.m. led by the Custer VFW Honor Guard along with the Mason County Central High School band. Traditionally an eighth grade student from MCC reads President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. From there, the VFW Honor Guard will travel to Riverside Cemetery in Custer Township for a ceremony, where a Mason County Eastern eighth grade student will read the Gettysburg Address. From there the post members will travel to Maple Grove Cemetery in Free Soil Township. The honor guard will also stop at the Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield memorial on Custer Road.

 

Memorial Day is a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered, traditionally observed on May 30 but now officially observed on the last Monday in May.

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