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Why We Remember: A Memorial Day Tribute

Memorial Day is one of the most cherished national holidays in the United States, dedicated to honoring the men and women who have died in military service to their country. It is a day of reflection, remembrance, and gratitude.

Understanding the origins of Memorial Day and its significance helps us appreciate the sacrifices made by those who served and continue to serve our nation. We offer this article as a reminder to all Americans just what exactly this day means to all of us.

The Origins of Memorial Day

Post-Civil War Beginnings

The origins of Memorial Day date back to the aftermath of the American Civil War, a conflict that claimed more lives than any other war in U.S. history and necessitated the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. The Civil War is by far the deadliest conflict in American history with more than 620,000 deaths in just five years of combat.

Originally known as Decoration Day, this day was set aside to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers, flags, and wreaths.

To this day, every Memorial Day, it is tradition to decorate the graves and headstones of those brave men and women who gave their life in service to their nation.

The First Observance: Decoration Day

Decoration Day, which took place on May 30, 1868, is considered the precursor to what we now know as Memorial Day in the United States. This day was set aside to honor the soldiers who had died in the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers and other tokens of respect. The origins of this observance and its association with General John A. Logan are integral to understanding its historical significance.

General John A. Logan was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization composed of Union veterans of the Civil War. On May 5, 1868, Logan issued General Order No. 11, calling for a nationwide day of remembrance to be held later that month. He designated May 30 as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Logan's proclamation read:

"The 30th day of May, 1868, is 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, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."

The first Decoration Day was observed with ceremonies held at Arlington National Cemetery, the site of the home of General Robert E. Lee. The cemetery, located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., had become a central burial ground for Union soldiers.

On May 30, 1868, flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington. The event was presided over by General James Garfield, who would later become the 20th President of the United States. Garfield delivered a moving speech, reflecting on the sacrifices made by the soldiers and the importance of national unity and remembrance. He said:

"We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue."

The observance of Decoration Day spread quickly, with various states and communities holding similar ceremonies to honor their war dead. The practice of decorating graves with flowers, flags, and other mementos became a widespread tradition, fostering a sense of collective mourning and remembrance across the nation.

Decoration Day laid the foundation for a national tradition of honoring military sacrifice. The day's ceremonies and practices created a framework for what would become Memorial Day, a time for all Americans to remember and honor those who have died in military service.

By reflecting on the origins of Decoration Day, we gain a deeper appreciation for the historical context and enduring importance of Memorial Day. It serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and the collective duty to remember and honor those who gave their lives for their country.

Evolution into Memorial Day

Initially, Decoration Day was primarily focused on honoring the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. However, as the United States engaged in subsequent conflicts, the scope of the day broadened to include all American military personnel who died in service to their country.

The term "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882, but it wasn’t until after World War II that it became more common. In 1967, the name was officially changed to Memorial Day.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, creating a three-day weekend for federal employees and marking it as a federal holiday.

Today, the tradition of Memorial Day carries on with many of the same traditions as when it was first celebrated. Americans the country over commemorate this day by not only reflecting on the sacrifices these military members have made, but enjoying the types of freedoms they died to protect.

The Significance of Memorial Day

Honoring the Fallen

Memorial Day serves as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by military personnel in service to their country. It is a day to honor the courage, dedication, and ultimate sacrifice of those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms and values that define the United States.

Since the Revolutionary War, Americans of all ages have risen to the call of their nation, willing to die in an attempt at its preservation. The awe-inspiring responsibility these men and women carried inspires all of us to live a life worth their sacrifices.

They remind us what it means to be the very best American you can be, that when your fellow man needs you to have his back, there is no question because you are both Americans.

It is with this spirt that we carry out these national traditions in order to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty to this great nation.

National Traditions

Cemetery Ceremonies: Across the nation, people visit cemeteries and memorials to pay their respects. The graves of soldiers are often adorned with American flags and flowers. National cemeteries, such as Arlington National Cemetery, hold special ceremonies and events.

Moment of Remembrance: At 3:00 PM local time, a National Moment of Remembrance is observed. Americans pause for a moment of silence to honor those who have died in military service.

Parades and Events: Many communities hold parades featuring military personnel, veterans, and patriotic music. These parades are a way to celebrate the bravery of the armed forces and to educate the public about the significance of the day.

Reflection and Gratitude

Memorial Day is also a time for reflection on the values of liberty and justice that these soldiers fought to protect. It encourages citizens to express their gratitude for the freedoms they enjoy and to recognize the cost of those freedoms. The day fosters a sense of national unity and pride, bringing people together in shared remembrance and appreciation.

It is easy to forget, but our world would be a very different place without those who were willing to serve their nation when we needed them most. Maybe we haven't been on the right side of conflicts when we were involved, but that doesn't mean that any of those who volunteered to fight in our stead deserve any less of our gratitude and respect.

Supporting the Living

While Memorial Day primarily honors those who have fallen, it also serves as a reminder to support and honor living veterans and active-duty service members. Many organizations and communities use the occasion to provide assistance and recognition to veterans, ensuring their sacrifices are not forgotten.

Memorial Day is a poignant and powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by countless men and women in the pursuit of freedom and peace. From its origins as Decoration Day following the Civil War to its evolution into a day of national remembrance, Memorial Day holds deep significance for the United States. It is a day to honor the fallen, reflect on the values they defended, and express our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy.

By participating in the traditions and observances of Memorial Day, we ensure that the legacy of those who gave their lives for their country will never be forgotten.

Be sure to reach out to veterans organization, like Wounded Warrior Project or Folds of Honor, for additional ways to help our veterans that made it home, but still wear the scars of battle. Donate whenever possible to causes designed at getting our nations heroes back on their feet. They stepped up for us when we needed them most, the least we can do is return the favor.

Why We Remember

We remember those who gave their lives for this country because they died believing in you and I. They died believing that you and I, perhaps the only thing we shared in common was the fact we are both American, could band together to help continue to create a more perfect union. They died believing this was truly a country worth protecting, despite our flaws and past sins.

We live on, able to enjoy our lives and watch our children grow because they sacrificed that for themselves. For that reason, we owe them our very best because when their brother and sisters, as well as the whole nation needed them at their very best, they did not hesitate to give it.

Based Nutrition is a proud supporter of this nation's veterans. We would be honored to serve you as our customer or work with you as a part of the Based family. If interested in becoming a brand ambassador, please email or direct message us on social media.

Thank you to those that have served, as well as their families...


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