Begun by widows of Confederate soldiers, Memorial Day was originally celebrated as “Decoration Day” to honor the memory of those who fought and died for the Confederate cause. Shortly thereafter though, these widows and other family members, realizing Union soldiers lay buried alongside those of the Confederacy, began to decorate those graves as well. As time passed, the tradition spread so as to honor not just those who fought and died in the Civil War, but in all American wars, from the Revolution to this day.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, and first observed on May 30th of that year. The observance continued on May 30th until 1971 when Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday and changed the observance from May 30th to the last Monday in May.
There are those who think of Memorial Day only as a time for BBQs and beer, but this is wrong. Though there is nothing wrong with a cookout or get-together, if that is one's only thought on Memorial Day, something is sadly missing. Our first thought for Memorial Day should be to consider it a time to honor those who have served this wonderful country.
Today, and each day to follow that God allows you to breathe the breath of life, keep this in mind . . . we have our freedoms and blessings because someone was willing to risk his or her life - with many paying the ultimate price - so we could have them. Take time to thank the soldiers and veterans you come in contact with for their service, and remember to offer special respect to those who gave it all – not just on Memorial Day, but each day throughout the year.