The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Memorial Day: Are You Actually Observing What the Day Really Means?

Ever since Congress declared Memorial Day a Federal Holiday and gave a 3-day weekend to the country, most Americans shifted their focus from what the day really meant to enjoying the unofficial start of summer. This is an unfortunate trend in our country of declaring national holidays for important events and ignoring what they really mean.

Time for a little history lesson.

The actual start of Memorial Day Observances has been in question since the end of the Civil War. More than 20 towns or cities in the U.S. declare themselves the birthplace of Memorial Day even though Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966.

General Order 11, made by General John Logan on May 5th, 1868, declared a day of remembrance when flowers were to be placed on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers. Women’s groups in the South had already been commemorating their dead since 1867 and most of the South ignored the order from the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. By 1890, all states in the North recognized May 30th as Memorial Day to honor the Civil War dead. It wasn’t until after World War 1 that the Southern states began honoring ALL war dead on Memorial Day and it wasn’t until 1971 that the Day was celebrated every year on the last Monday of May.

The day used to mean people would gather at veterans cemeteries and care for the graves of the dead soldiers as well as leave flowers on the headstones. But…does that happen now? Not everywhere.

While you spend time with family and enjoy grilling out, being outdoors and having a good time, remember why you can do that in this country…and the men and women who secured that right. Memorial Day is sacred and solemn. Try to take a few minutes to remember. Visit this website for more information on how to make Memorial Day more important for our country.

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