Memorial Day 2018
Memorial Day was first observed 150 years ago on May 5, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War.
The head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
Some cities in both the North and South claim to have been first to hold commemorative days prior to 1868. In 1966,Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
No matter the official first observance, we honor and remember all those who have died while serving in all American wars throughout the years, and are thankful for their service and sacrifice for this nation.
The Community Education office and entire Clovis Adult campus will be closed, and no classes held on Monday, May 28, 2018 in honor of Memorial Day. We hope you enjoy the day off, and take a moment to remember the freedom that we have didn’t come free – some paid the ultimate price! We will return to normal office hours of M-Th 8am-8pm and classes as scheduled on Tuesday, May 29th.
You can read more about the origins of Memorial Day by clicking here.