It was during that first commemoration that Congressman James Garfield made a speech while he was at the Arlington National Cemetery. After the speech, nearly 5,000 people helped to decorate the graves of more than 20,000 soldiers that were buried there. “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens,” Garfield said during his Arlington speech.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day for America to recognize and remember those members of our military who have died during their service. It began to receive observation in May of 1868. At that time it was to commemorate the sacrifices of the soldiers that were serving in the Civil War.
After the event at the first commemoration took place, and it inspired many more people to do similar acts throughout America. In 1873, New York became the first state to recognize and designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. After World War I, it became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars.
Since the start, Memorial Day has been about recognizing those service men and women who dedicate themselves to their country. Today, this day has become a way to celebrate these men and women. Celebrations with barbeques, family reunions, and special ceremonies are held throughout the country. This year, keep a look out as many organizations are making special ways to honor those servicemen and women.