Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor.
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans – the Grand Army of the Republic – established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. MG John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
To ensure the sacrifices of America‘s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.”
Across our nation on Memorial Day, we gather to honor and remember those who gave what Abraham Lincoln called the “last full measure of devotion” in the fight for our liberty; we honor America’s finest men and women who gave their lives in defense of a nation, in defense of its people.
Grundy County communities will honor and remember our nation’s finest with the following observances:
Minooka: Minooka American Legion Post 1188 will host a Memorial Day parade and observance on Monday, May 29. The parade starts at 10 a.m. at the Minooka Bible Church, 412 N. Wabena Ave., Minooka. A memorial service will follow at Veterans Park at the corner of Mondamin and Wabena.
Coal City, Diamond & Carbon Hill: St. Juvin VFW Post 1336 will conduct the community’s Memorial Day observance at 11 a.m. Monday at the Coal City Veterans Memorial located at the Intermediate School 305 E. Division St., Coal City.
Morris: John Martin Steele VFW Post 6049 will host a parade and observance. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. from Chapin Park and goes to the Grundy County courthouse, where the observance will begin at 11 a.m.
Mazon: Mazon American Legion Post 352 will host a Memorial Day observance at 11 a.m. Monday at the Mazon Park.
Volunteers are needed to set up and remove gravesite flags for the 24th annual Memorial Day weekend at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.
Volunteer Gravesite Flag Set-up will be at 9 a.m. Friday, May 26, at the main flagpole. Volunteer Gravesite Flag Removal will be at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 30. Any help would be appreciated.
Abraham Lincoln Memorial Day observance will be at 11 a.m. Monday. The cemetery is located at 20953 West Hoff Road, Elwood. Parking can be a challenge, plan accordingly.
If you are unable to attend an observance in your community The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute. The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather, it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died in service to the United States.
There are many local events in honor of Memorial Day, the Grundy County Veterans Assistance Commission encourages all to participate in an event near you.