Brian Shrader's Siteseeing Blog

A Fixed Date for Memorial Day?

Posted May 28, 2007

What we now call "Memorial Day" began in 1866, the year after the Civil War ended.  Local observances began in the northern and southern states, where people decorated the graves of the war dead with flowers.  The first large national observance, known as Decoration Day, officially started in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery.

By the end of the 1800s, local observances became widespread.  Officials decided after World War I to mark the deaths of soldiers in all U.S. wars. 

Because of lingering tensions after the Civil War, many southern states began Confederate Memorial Day observances, which continue to this day.  North Carolina's is held on May 10,

Congress and President Clinton created "The National Moment of Remembrance Act."  The legislation created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, which encourages people to stop what they're doing at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to pause for a moment of silence. 

I've mined some interesting Memorial Day links -- facts about its history, U.S. war casualties and interesting archival items from The Library of Congress.

Memorial Day was observed on May 30 of each year until 1971, when the National Holiday Act moved it to the last Monday in May, creating a three-day weekend.  Many would say (certainly with merit) that Memorial Day is better known as the first "summer" holiday weekend -- grilling, picnics and beach trips.  

The three-day weekend is nice, but is it time to move Memorial Day back to a fixed date of May 30?  Would that help return Memorial Day to its original intent? Are you willing to give up your three-day weekend?


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  • Beach Music Forever May 29, 2007

    Seems a shame to me that a great number of students had to attend class on Memorial Day, which honors the men and women who gave up the ultimate to allow us to be free. Other holidays just should not hold the importance that Memorial Day carries. Shame on the system.

  • Halyard May 28, 2007

    The least we can do is have a National celebration for the ultimate price having been paid by so many throughout our history. By all means keep the 3 day weekend, I don't think Memorial Day would have the same impact or recognition otherwise.

  • ratnix May 28, 2007

    If MLK Day (which is tied to someone's birthday) is subject to being moved to a convenient Monday to create a 3-day-weekend, then there's no reason that a randomly picked day like Memorial Day can't be moved. Personally, I eagerly await the time when 'Patriot Day' gets moved to the second Monday in September.

    Some don't care about MLK. Some don't care about Christmas and Easter. Those that do will care whenever it is, but you can't expect that everyone will.

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