Visit Everglades City and the Ten Thousand Islands of Southwest Florida, the Everglades

Memorial Day Monday May 27, 2024

by By Reverend Dr Bob N. Wallace
Everglades Community Church

Memorial Day is an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War which took place from April 12, 1861, to May 26, 1865, and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history. As a result, the country established its first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, various towns and cities began holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers. People decorated their graves with flowers and recited prayers. The exact origin of this tradition is unclear, but one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina, less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865.

In 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo is a village located in Seneca County, New York. It serves as the primary county seat of Seneca County. The population of Waterloo was 5,171 at the 2010 census, making it the most populated village in Seneca County. The village is named after Waterloo, Belgium, where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated in battle. Notably, Waterloo, NY is recognized as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

The tradition of honoring fallen soldiers began there in the aftermath of the American Civil War. On May 5, 1866, a local druggist named Henry C. Welles proposed the idea of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. This led to the first official observance of Memorial Day in Waterloo on May 5, 1866. The village continues to commemorate Memorial Day with parades, ceremonies, and events, paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Waterloo had been celebrating the day since May 5, 1866, with community-wide events and grave decorations.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. The date chosen for Decoration Day was not tied to any specific battle anniversary.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield delivered a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there. By 1890, each Northern state had made Decoration Day an official state holiday.

Southern states continued to honor the dead on separate days until after World War I.

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday of May, marking the beginning of the summer season. Each year, a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
On this solemn day, let us remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.

2024-05-24T19:55:51-04:00May 27, 2024|Community|

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