Memorial Day

by | May 9, 2024

It’s easy to take Memorial Day for granted as a 3-day weekend with opportunities for fun, travel, grilling, or simply having extra personal time.  It’s much more meaningful to focus on why the holiday exists.

The idea for a specific holiday came after the Civil War when in 1868, Illinois Senator John Alexander Logan, a former Union general, issued a proclamation for a national “Decoration Day” to be observed on May 30 of that year by decorating the tombs of Union soldiers. At the time, Logan was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union soldiers.

After World War I, Decoration Day was expanded to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.   The name “Memorial Day” started cropping up occasionally in reference to the holiday. The new name became more common after World War II, and in 1967 was declared the official name by Federal law.

If you’re wondering, the proper protocol for flag flying on Memorial Day is that it should be flown at half-staff from sunrise to noon, then it should be raised to the top of the staff until sunset.  In 2000, Congress signed the “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” into law. Through the action, citizens were encouraged to pause for a moment of silence to remember those who’ve died in service to our country at 3 p.m. local time every Memorial Day.

In modern times, the meaning of Memorial Day seems to extend to remembering all those whom we have lost.  I remember wearing a “Buddy Poppy” and going with my parents to put flowers on my little sister’s grave and the graves of my grandparents, none of whom served in the military.  It was a day of remembrance; a moment to express our love for them.   Author Nina Riggs (The Bright Hour) shares a story about a rabbi friend of hers who imparts the many memories he has of his mother.  ‘She is far from a hole in my life. She is an enormous presence that can never be replaced.’

We welcome you to all of our Catholic Cemeteries this Memorial Day to remember those who “can never be replaced.”