Memorial Day…A Matter of Convenience or Memory?
Did you know that May 30th, was the originally designated and traditional day for the observance of Memorial Day way back in 1868? And, in 2023 it will be observed on May 29th. Why the change in observance dates?
How did that come about?
That change occurred as a matter of convenience. Congress on June 28, 1968 passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved 4 holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates, to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three day weekend. This Act by Congress, changed Memorial Day from its original May 30th date to the last Monday in May.
Originally, one General John A. Logan on March 3, 1868 issued a general order designating May 30th as a day for the graves of soldiers, from both the north and south in the great divisive conflict in our national history, known as the Civil War, to be” …strewn with flowers” as a way of honoring their sacrifice.
But, it has changed in many ways since that time. Many people look on it as the official start of summer with some store owners seeing “Memorial Day Sales” writ large on their advertisements, barbecues abound with family fun, summer homes are opened for the season and yes, graves of soldiers in cemeteries are marked with flags, with “Old Glory” waving from many porches and parades, and there is a patriotic fervor with red paper poppies popping up on many a lapel.
So, if you have a moment today, please remember the origins of Memorial Day, and the reason for its institution. Please pass on its meaning and message to your young reader. It will reinforce in their young minds that freedom and the many sacrifices that it has necessitated for generations is never a matter of convenience when referring to sacrifices of the highest order. And its cost continues from 1868 to today.