Remember Memorial Day Monday, May 30
Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, will be observed Monday, May 30 this year.
Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day and had its origins during the Civil War. General John Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance for strewing flowers and decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country. May 30 was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. On May 5, 1868, 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 Civil War soldiers buried there.
Though originally honoring those lost during the Civil War, the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. It wasn’t until America’s entry into World War I that the Decoration Day tradition was expanded to include those killed in all wars. The holiday was not officially recognized nationwide until the 1970s when America was deeply embroiled in the Vietnam War.
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 changed the name to Memorial Day and moved it from its traditional observance on May 30 (regardless of the day of the week) to a set day—the last Monday in May.