We finish up our Military Appreciation Month series by honoring those men and women who died while serving in our armed forces. Memorial Day, a U.S. federal holiday, was founded for just this purpose. Originally called Decoration Day, it was started as a way to pay tribute those Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.
Decoration Day was founded as a way to unify the country after the Civil War. The first national celebration was held on May 30, 1868. By creating a national day of remembrance for both Union and Confederate troops, it was hoped that the states would come together to honor the fallen rather than have separate ceremonies. By the late 19th century, the holiday became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to include the deceased veterans of all the wars fought by American forces.
In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday. Since many U.S. companies close for the holiday it was decided that it would always be observed on the last Monday of May. This gave people a three-day weekend for Memorial Day. It has become the unofficial beginning of the summer vacation season.
To honor the brave servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, many people visit war memorials and military cemeteries. Those who have fallen veterans in their family often visit their tombstones to pay their respects. Not too far from Alpha’s headquarters is Arlington National Cemetery. There members of the U.S. Army and volunteers place small United States flags at exactly the same spot at each tombstone in recognition of the day. Others take this time of year to volunteer their time at veterans’ organizations. No matter how you spend the holiday the important thing is to take time to think about all the men and women throughout history who have been brave enough to answer the call for service and sacrifice their lives to ensure that our country remains the "land of the free."