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Find ways to honor our fallen heroes this Memorial Day
For more than 50 years, we as a nation have dedicated the last Monday in May to honor all members of our military who have died while serving in the United States military forces. Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, was declared a national holiday through an act of Congress in 1971 and has been part of our national tradition ever since.
Although many Americans take advantage of the long weekend by taking trips, attending and hosting backyard barbecues, or shopping, the meaning, and history behind the holiday are somber and sacred.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the origins of the holiday can be traced back to local observances for Confederate soldiers with neglected gravesites during the Civil War.
One of the first Declaration Days was held in Columbus, Mississippi, on April 25, 1866, by women who decorated graves of Confederate soldiers who perished in the battle at Shiloh with flowers.
Three years after the end of the Civil War, on May 5, 1868, the tradition of placing flowers on veterans’ graves was continued by the establishment of Decoration Day by an organization of Union veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic.
On May 30, 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first recorded large observance, which consisted of a crowd of about 5,000 people that gathered at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The orphaned children of soldiers and sailors killed during the war placed flowers and small American flags atop both Union and Confederate graves throughout the entire cemetery.
Until World War I, Civil War soldiers were solely honored on this holiday. Now, all Americans who’ve died serving our nation are observed on Memorial Day.
The history behind our national tradition is important, but what is more important is how we as individuals honor the sacrifices of our fallen military heroes. It’s fine to enjoy a barbecue or get a good deal on a car or furniture, but we should not forget to take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the members of our military and the impact their loss has had on their families and our nation as a whole.
Although each of us should establish our own Memorial Day traditions, here are a few suggestions:
- See a former battlefield
- Raise an American Flag
- Visit a Veteran’s home
- Go to a nearby Veteran’s Cemetery
- Have a moment of silence to honor the fallen heroes
- Investigate your family’s military history
- Learn about Gold Star families
- Attend a Memorial Day parade
- Take part in a Memorial Day service
We at Russo Law Group, P.C. are very grateful to the members of our military and for all the sacrifices they have made and continue to make for our nation.
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