Decoration Day Observance

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Decoration Day Observance

Decorating the graves of loved-ones, soldiers, and also the forgotten, has been observed for a large number of years all around the world. Within the U.S., Decoration Day refers to two issues: the origins of our contemporary Memorial Day, along with a present holiday that’s primarily honored in the South.

The Beginnings of Decoration Day

Credit for the origins of Decoration Day observance partially lie with much more than a dozen people and communities, however it is indisputable that the roots of our present Memorial Day came from the South’s Decoration Day. Even prior to the Civil War, the Southern U.S. held a grassroots custom, or tradition, every spring as an event in numerous public and private circles to honor their deceased loved ones at their final resting places. Wikipedia states that it’s believed that the Decoration Day tradition “began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the ‘Memorial Day’ idea.” It was far more widely observed within the South than comparable traditions within the Northern States. Then came the Civil War in which roughly 620,000 or 2% of our nation was killed.

Memorial Day Observed In May

Driven by the powerful feelings that divided our nation, and promoted by a couple of important individuals, Decoration Day observance began to draw a significantly larger following. It evolved to focus primarily on the graves of their Civil War dead. Sentiments in our country had been powerful, and in those couple of years, there began such a groundswell of support on a national level, that it was officially designated by General John A. Logan in May 1866 as an annual event that our nation ought to observe. His widow, in her autobiography indicated that the inspiration for his pronouncement originated from his admiration from the South’s tradition. She wrote that Gen. Logan stated, “it was not too late for the Union men of the nation to follow the example of the people of the South in perpetuating the memory of their friends who had died for the cause they thought just and right.” The very first national celebration of Decoration Day took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers had been buried. Shortly thereafter, some Americans, including high officials within the U.S. Government, began to refer to it as Memorial Day. Its focus, although, nonetheless lingered on the Civil War. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs states, “By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation.”

An Officially Observed Holiday

Following WWI, the federal government went further and declared the last Monday in May to be known as Memorial Day as a day to honor all Americans who’ve died in military service for the United States of America and to decorate their graves. The latest official acts came in 1968 and in 1971 when Congress declared Memorial Day a National Holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. Some Southern States, determined to keep Decoration Day alive, have continued to honor it with respect to fallen Confederate Soldiers on an additional day, generally between April and June. In some states, that day is designated as Confederate Memorial Day, Confederate Decoration Day, Confederate Heroes Day, or simply Decoration Day. In numerous of those states and localities, public employees have the day off, and in others they do not. In addition to focusing primarily on Confederate war dead, numerous, nevertheless, also use that day to adorn the graves of any and all loved ones, or even entire graveyards. In addition, in numerous of those same communities, and some communities not even in the South, they set aside yet an additional day for the decoration of any graves in general.

Never Forget

Decoration Day nonetheless carries a number of levels of deep meaning to those who observe it distinctly from Memorial Day. For many Southerners, in addition to just paying tribute towards the fallen from the Civil War, Decoration Day is really a reminder for future generations to never forget.

Whether or not it’s Memorial Day or Decoration Day, the tradition of decorating graves has now turn out to be a respected part of the fabric of America. We at would also like to express our love and appreciation to those who came prior to us, permitting us to live the fruits of their sacrifices.


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