Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.
These were the famous words of Daniel Webster, in honor of those who sacrificed their lives while serving the nation during wars. On May 5, 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.
It was officially proclaimed as the Memorial Day by General John Logan, who was then the national commander of the GAR. It is believed that the last Monday of May was chosen for it, because the fact that flowers bloom in this part of the year.
The village Waterloo in New York was credited as the place of origin of Memorial day, because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter. It was officially declared as the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon B. Johnson, on May 26, 1966.
By the end of the American Civil War, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war, and as a memorial to those who attained martyrdom. These observances agglomerated to form the Decoration Day, honoring the brave men who died during the war.
The first large gathering for this day was observed on May 30, 1868, at the Arlington National Cemetery, which is across the Potomac River. This ceremony was conducted around the veranda of the Arlington mansion, which was once home to Gen. Robert E. Lee. and various other Washington officials.
The crowd attending the ceremony, consisted of about 5,000 people and small American flags were placed on each grave. This tradition is followed at many national cemeteries even today.
The alternative name for the Decoration Day was first used in 1882, however, it did not become common until after the Second World War. In 1967, the term 'Memorial Day' was declared as the official name by Federal law.
In the beginning, all fifty states were not ready to comply with the law, however, within few years they adopted the required measures for a 3 day weekend. It is important that the sanctity of the traditional observance of Memorial Day is respected by every individual.
Memorial Day parades should be held in all towns and cities, honoring any and all war-dead. It is also necessary to re-educate and remind everyone the true meaning of Memorial Day, and teach every child the significance of one's country and its independence.
To ensure the sacrifices of America's fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed by the U.S. Congress. It encourages every American to voluntarily and informally observe Memorial day at 3 p.m., pausing from whatever task they are doing.
It is a token of respect for those honorable men, who sacrificed their lives for the country. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: "It's a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day."