The Anniversary of No Particular Battle
In the United States of America, we dedicate the last Monday of May to honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. The day originally was known as Decoration Day and the day became an official holiday in 1971, and originated during and following the civil war. The Civil War took more lives than any conflict that had been faced on US soil in the country’s history and thus, required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, many people had begun honoring and setting up memorials for fallen soldiers and it became unclear where exactly this tradition originated from.
Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen as the birthplace of Memorial Day, because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which, businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts placed a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of buried soldiers, presently however, they place flags instead of candles. And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years. On Memorial Day, we aren’t just honoring fallen soldiers, we are honoring the civilians, the children and infants, and workers whose lives were ended by that of war. It’s important to take some time to recognize the lives lost as they have done so much for our country.