Although many consider Memorial Day as the official kickoff to summer and celebrate with a day of grilling with friends and family, this national holiday was created to honor the sacrifice of America’s fallen soldiers.
First observed as a way to honor fallen Civil War soldiers, General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day. From there, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a holiday, with its national observation increasing following the first World War. But, Memorial Day did not become an official national holiday until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971.
Memorial Day is not a day to celebrate Veterans for their service – Veterans Day is set aside for that. Rather, it is a solemn day to remember those who died while serving and to reflect on their sacrifices and those of the families they left behind.
Every year on Memorial Day, a moment of remembrance is held at 3 p.m. local time.
So, this Memorial Day weekend, amidst the picnics, BBQs and “blowout sales” that have sometimes seemed to usurp the purpose of this day of remembrance, we urge you to honor the intent of the day – those who have fallen in service to our country, their sacrifice and their families.
If you or a loved one are a West Virginia Veteran, the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance is here for you. From providing guidance as you submit a VA claim to resources for tax or education benefits, we can help.