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Memorial Day Then and Now

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, May 24, 2019


Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Memorial Day is an American holiday dedicated to honor the men and women who have sacrificed their lives while serving in the United States military. Celebrated on the last Monday in May, this year across the country we will commemorate Memorial Day on Monday, May 27th.



Memorial Day was originally born from the American Civil War, as a way to respect and honor those who had fallen to protect their country. The American Civil war took more American lives than any other U.S. conflict and resulting in the establishment of America’s first national cemeteries. Back then, the holiday was named Decoration Day and was proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John Logan to be on May 30th “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion…”. The first Memorial Day commemoration took place at Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 citizens came to honor more than 20,000 fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. New York was the first state to officiate the holiday in 1873 and was quickly adopted by the northern states by 1890. The South celebrated and remembered their dead on a different day. However, after World War I, the holiday was changed from honoring only the fallen from the Civil War, to honoring American deaths in all and any war. After the congressional National Holiday Act of 1971, Memorial Day is celebrated by almost every state as a three day weekend.



Everyone chooses to celebrate or remember those who they have lost in different ways. However, there are a few universal traditions that are historically used to commemorate Memorial Day. First, is the National Moment of Remembrance. Passed in December 2000, this resolution asks that at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day for all American citizens to pause for a moment of silence or listen to the song ‘Taps’ as a way to honor our fallen soldiers. Another quintessential part of Memorial Day is the symbol of poppy flowers. Started by poet Moina Michael in 1915, wearing red poppy flowers has become a way to recognize, show appreciation for, and honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Americans will also visit memorials and cemeteries on Memorial Day, leaving flowers, flags, and notes to show their appreciation. Many towns and cities will have Memorial Day parades to honor local military families and encourage patriotism. The largest and most decorated parades take places in New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. It is also common to make patriotically decorated food for Memorial Day barbecues as a small reminder of the sacrifices our military has made for us.



If you are in Boston for the weekend, make sure to visit Boston Common for the Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags display. The Common will be decorated with more than 37,000 American flags to represent and commemorate each of the Massachusetts soldiers who have given their lives to protect our nation’s freedom. Additionally, on Saturday May 25, Veterans Memorial Park in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood will be celebrating the holiday with their 73rd Annual Memorial Day Service at 11 AM.


As always, we want to see how you celebrate! Please send us your favorite Memorial Day memories and traditions by sharing with us @globalimmersions or using #HomestayBoston.


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