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Memorial Day is an important federal holiday celebrated on the last Monday of May each year bringing America together to pay tribute to the country's brave men and women who died fighting for the country's cause. Many people celebrate this day to unofficially kick start the summer season and head for beach trips, pool parties, barbecues and movies with their loved ones. It is, however, important to understand the real significance of Memorial Day which is celebrated to commemorate and honor soldiers who have dedicated their lives while serving in the nation's armed forces.
Here are seven interesting facts you might not know about Memorial Day.
The date for paying tribute to the fallen soldiers was chosen by General Logan as May 30 with the utmost consideration. This date was not associated with any particular war, and no major battle took place on May 30 making it a neutral date for honoring all comrades equally.
Memorial Day was originally intended to honor military personnel who died fighting in the Civil War. After the Civil War came to an end, General John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, called for a holiday to be observed every May 30 to honor the fallen soldiers. According to The Uniform Monday Holiday Act taking effect in 1971, however, Memorial Day was finally shifted to the last Monday of May to give way to a three-day weekend for all federal employees.
The National Moment of Remembrance Act was signed by the then President Bill Clinton in the year 2000 asking all Americans to designate 3 p.m. local time for a full minute on Memorial Day. It is now a legal requirement to remember and honor those who died serving the United States while protecting the rights and freedom of the citizens of the nation.
Memorial Day was formerly known as the Decoration Day to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers killed in the American Civil War. Soldiers would decorate the graves of their fallen comrades with flowers, flags, and wreaths to honor the deceased. The day came to be officially known as the Memorial Day in 1967.
It is an old tradition to wear red poppy flowers on Memorial Day to remember those who died in the war and honor them. The tradition of wearing the red poppy flowers that were adopted by United States and its allies originated from a famous poem "In Flanders Fields" written by former Canadian Col. John McCrae in 1915.
There is a special protocol supposed to be followed on Memorial Day. The flag is supposed to be respectfully lowered and flown at half-mast until noon after which it is again raised at full mast for the rest of the day.
The first Memorial Day speech was delivered by then Ohio congressman and later American President James Abram Garfield. The speech was given in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Country, Virginia and each year the Memorial Day celebration witnesses approximately five thousand people at the cemetery.
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