By Cmdr. Christopher Mulrooney
The origins of Memorial Day trace its roots back to May 5, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, to remember those fallen in battle.
The head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the fallen with flowers on May 30. This marked the first large observance of mourning the war dead. Prior to this, there were many local tributes of mourning across the country.
Due to multiple cities claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, the federal government decided to name a location to serve as the official birthplace. Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966.
After World War I, it became a day to honor and remember the sacrifices of all those who served the U.S. military and are no longer with us. Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress in 1971 when it was placed as the last Monday in May.
For many people, it is a long weekend off. It has become known for barbecues and outings with family and loved ones. However, it is truly a day of remembrance for America’s fallen heroes.