This weekend, Americans will be heading to the beach, the forests, the mountains. They'll be attending baseball games, shopping fantastic Memorial Day sales, and consuming countless hot dogs at backyard barbecues.
What they won't be doing, most likely, is celebrating the day as it was truly intended.
Memorial Day began as a means to honor all those that died in the Civil War. It was in 1971, Congress passed an act making it the last Monday in May in order to ensure a three-day weekend.
With that, the wheels were set in motion to obliterate the original meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.
Still there are efforts to restore dignity and solemnity to the observance of what was originally known as Decoration Day. There is currently a grass roots effort to make Memorial Day May 30, instead of the last Monday in May. There also have been moves in Congress to renew May 30 as the official Memorial Day, but no formal action has been taken.
It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic. During the first celebration 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, and it later also honored those who had died in all of America's wars. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. A similar service will be provided at the Payson Pioneer Cemetery with members of the Payson Womans Club and Rim Country Museum placing 178 flags on graves.
This Memorial Day, we hope you'll take time out of your three-day weekend to honor those who have died to protect our freedoms.