Memorial Day takes place this year on May 27 and will see Americans commemorate those lost in battle. The day of remembrance is a federal holiday in the US, which requires the closure of most government offices. Some shops are also closed for the day, although this is not a legal requirement as it is with the federal government. While many people will appreciate the extra day off, Memorial Day is a day of solemn remembrance for a lot of people.
What is the meaning behind Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a bank holiday specifically set aside to remember members of the US armed forces.
The holiday is one of two which celebrate the American armed forces, alongside Veterans Day.
While Veterans Day celebrates all who have served in the armed forces, Memorial Day specifically remembers those who died.
The holiday originates in the years following the brutal American civil war from 1861 to 1865.
On May 5, 1868, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – an organisation of Unionist veterans – established Decoration Day as one to celebrate the casualties of the war.
On this day, people would decorate the grass of dead soldiers with flowers.
Union general Major General John Logan declared the holiday would be observed on May 30, as this was when flowers would bloom across the country.
With his declaration, General Logan said: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance.
“All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders.
“Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds.
“Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.”
“Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
“If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.”
Memorial Day was drafted into law with the National Holiday Act of 1971.
This designated Memorial Day as a bank holiday to take place on the last day of May every year.