Memorial Day is more than a day off from work to have a cookouts and pool parties. Memorial Day is the day we pause to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives protecting our country. The Civil War claimed the lives of 620,000 American soldiers, more than any conflict in our nation’s history. When the war ended in 1865 there was a need to establish the nation’s first national cemeteries for the fallen. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day, was a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and flags from the Civil War.

Beginning in the late 1860’s many towns and cities began holding parades and tributes. Although, the true origination is still unclear Waterloo, New York was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966. General John A Logan on May 5, 1868 called for a nationwide day of remembrance stating “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

After World War 1, Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day and the holiday expanded to commemorate all American military personnel who died in any war. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to establish Memorial Day at the last Monday in May. This created a 3 day weekend for federal employees going into effect in 1971 and declaring Memorial Day a federal holiday.

As we prepare to enjoy our 3 day weekend, take a moment to create a voice, text or email message in your account to send around 3 pm on Memorial Day. 3 pm local time is when we are all encouraged to pause in a moment of silence to remember and honor all those who have died in service to our great nation. This moment is a small step that we can do to help remember the importance of Memorial Day and the lives of more than 1.1 million men and women who had died in service.

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