The Spirit of Memorial Day

Circulating Now from NLM

By Kenneth M. Koyle

The origin of the Memorial Day observance in America is disputed, with several states and communities claiming primacy as the first to hold an official celebration or first to place a holiday on the books, but we know that it began in the years following the U.S. Civil War. Decoration Day, as the occasion was known then, was marked by families and friends decorating the graves of loved ones who had died in war, often accompanied by speeches, proclamations, and ceremonies. The name has changed over time, and for many Americans Memorial Day has come to symbolize the beginning of summer, celebrated with barbecues and parties instead of the somber traditions of the past. But the true spirit and intent of the holiday remains the same: recognizing and honoring the sacrifice of military personnel who have given their lives in service to the nation.

A crowd of men and women in military uniform attend an outdoor ceremony. U.S. Army…

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