What is special about this day and what can you do to remember all who have fallen? Well, please read on and I will discuss that as well as what is Memorial Day?
Formerly known as Decoration Day this day of the year lets us commemorate every man and woman who has died whilst serving in the United States military service.
Memorial Day – Last Monday of May
Memorial Day/Jefferson Davis’ Birthday – Last Monday of May (Mississippi)
Have You Got Any Military Ancestors?
Before I do begin to discuss Memorial Day I just wanted to ask you one question.
Do you know whether you have an ancestor that was in the military service?
If you do know or even if you are not too sure then why not check out the Ancestry website.
From this popular genealogy search site you can find your ancestors military records.
I like finding any records that I can about my ancestors and there are tons to be found here.
What can you find at Ancestry?
These are the usual documents such as birth, death and marriage certificates. But also there are other sources of information such as church records, newspaper articles, wills, and even military records.
Uncover the military records!
Please, I ask you to uncover where your military ancestors were deployed, where they served, any medals they were awarded, or maybe any disciplinary action they may have faced.
By doing so you can learn so much about them, and it will start you on the road of discovering more about them.
And by researching them you will appreciate what they went through so that we could live in a free country.
So, why not discover your military ancestor today and learn all about their military service?
The Story Behind Memorial Day
The American Civil War was a war that saw the northern United States fight against their southern cousins. Even though this war only lasted for four years from 1861 to 1865 there was a huge loss of life.
Up to an incredible 750,000 men lost their lives during this war which was even more than the casualties for the First and Second World Wars combined for the U.S.
Commemorating the Civil War fallen!
Memorial Day began as a day to commemorate the Union soldiers, (northern United States), who died during the American Civil War.
The southern states, (the Confederates), had already set aside a day of the year to honor their war dead on Confederate Memorial Day.
And so the north followed suit.
The purpose of this day changed after the First World War when any and all men and women who died in either war or military action were honored.
Before the Second World War this day was known as Decoration Day.
This day fell on May 30 every year, regardless of the day of the week.
The 3-day Memorial Day Weekend!
However, this all changed in 1968 when the Uniform Holidays Bill passed.
This saw federal holidays created to make 3-day weekends.
It was not until three years later in 1971 that the last Monday of May was observed as the day to remember and honor military service personnel who have died in conflict.
It did though take a while for all states to adopt this new date.
What Can You Do?
You maybe wondering what you can do to remember not only your military ancestors but also the brave men and women who have fought for our country.
There are many different ways that you can do this as I will explain below.
Here’s some ideas!
First of all why not visit the cemetery of your fallen ancestors and place some flowers on their grave.
If you do not have any military ancestors then you can still visit a cemetery and do the same on a serviceman’s or woman’s grave.
Many volunteers throughout the country do this as well as place an American flag on their grave.
Many people will fly the American flag at half mast throughout Memorial Day morning from dawn up until noon.
Please note if you do rely on public transport then you will need to be aware that these services do not run on their regular service on this day.
Memorial Day is in fact a federal holiday and so many Government offices are closed, together with businesses and schools.
Spend time with the family!
Despite this day being set aside to remember the war dead its significance has declined in recent years.
Many people will take advantage of this day off, (Monday), and spend time with their family and friends.
They will have family gatherings and picnics as well.
There are also may sporting events held on this day as well.
If you do decide to visit your family or catch up with friends then please also be aware that there will be congestion on the roads.
The same can also be said for bus stations and at airports as well.
Before I finish this post I just that I would share with you some interesting facts that I have uncovered whilst researching for this post.
1. 3.00pm is time to remember!
In December 2000 The National Moment of Remembrance Act states that the exact time of remembrance should be 3.00pm.
If you are at a Major League Baseball game during this time please note that play will come to a stop at this time.
2. Celebrated in late May because …
Flowers come into bloom at this time of year. This is an important time because flowers can be picked and taken to the graves of deceased veterans.
May 30th was proposed by Union General John A Logan to be known as Decoration Day, which was the predecessor of Memorial Day.
And it is also believed that this date was chosen as it is significant with many battles.
3. Oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade is in …
This occurs in Ironton in Ohio where the Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade has been going since 1868.
But, the oldest, and the first, Memorial Day parade actually took place in 1867 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
4. The bugle call ‘Taps’
This bugle call is performed at the Memorial Day Wreath Ceremony, as well as at military funerals.
What you may not know is that this tune was adapted from another bugle call, “Scott Tattoo“. And this call was used to signify lights out.
5. Over 40 million people travel on this day
It’s no surprise that many people will be on the roads on this day in order to visit family and friends.
But would you believe that an estimated 41.5 million people will be traveling on Memorial Day weekend?
My Final Thoughts
For me I love to find out the origins of days such as Memorial Day. I like to find out the history behind these days and know why they were originally created.
Many of the special days of the year have lost their true meaning and have become too commercialized in recent times.
Remember the fallen!
We should all remember our military ancestors and any U.S. personnel who have died in war and conflict on this day.
If you want to know more about your family tree then why not ask older relatives and find out about your heritage.
You can learn so much from them so why not visit your relatives on Memorial Day.
Discover your ancestors through Ancestry.com!
If visiting your relatives is not an option then why not research your genealogy online.
The Ancestry website is a great site for you to start your journey as I mentioned at the start of this post.
This popular genealogy search website has many military records for you to check and find your war ancestors.
Discovering your military ancestors is a great way for you to discover your family tree.
You can build on what you have learned about them and find out other parts of their life.
Through Ancestry you can find church records, wills and probates, and also find out about their working life as well.
And even connect with cousins that you never knew existed!
Why not head on over to Wikipedia where you can learn more about this day!
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed this post giving you a guide as to what Memorial Day is all about. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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