by Anura Guruge
>> Proper greeting for Memorial Day —
>> — May 27, 2013.
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1. Memorial Day, a U.S. Federal Holiday (on the last Monday of May), is for remembering all the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.
2. Veteran’s Day (November 11) is the day for celebrating all the men and women who served in the armed forces.
3. Though widely used, ‘Happy‘ is not the appropriate wish (or greeting) for Memorial Day. It is meant to be a day for sober reflection.
4. Memorial Day per se came to be after the American Civil War to honor the 600,000 soldiers from both sides that died during the four year, three week and 6 day conflict (though the custom of remembering war dead goes back to time immemorial).
5. The first specific and widely publicized ‘Memorial Day’ observance was held in Charleston, S.C. on May 1, 1865.
6. Notwithstanding ‘5.’ above, the 89th U.S. Congress and President Johnson, in May 1966, have declared ‘Waterloo’, New York (named after Napoleon’s nemesis in Belgium) , the ‘official‘ birthplace of ‘Memorial Day’ — that village, urged by its local drugstore owner, Henry Welles, having held an observance also in 1865.
7. Memorial Day used to be called ‘Decoration Day‘ — ‘Memorial Day’ only gaining currency in 1882, and only becoming official and legislated (by Congress) in 1967.
8. Memorial Day, until 1971, used to be celebrated on May 30 — irrespective of which day of the week it fell, that date having been chosen, as of 1968, as the optimal day for flowers to be in bloom.
9. Celebrating Memorial Day on a Monday, as is also the case with George Washington’s Birthday [3rd Monday in February (formerly February 22)], Labor Day [1st Monday in September] & Columbus Day [2nd Monday in October (formerly observed on October 12)] only came to be with the passage of the ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Act’ in June 1968 — though it did not come into effect until January 1, 1971. [[ Veterans Day was also moved to the 4th Monday in October but was then reinstated to its traditional, proper date of ‘November 11’ as of 1978.]]
10. On Memorial Day the ‘Stars and Stripes’ is first raised to the top of the staff and then immediately lowered to half-staff — but only staying at half-staff till noon, when it is raised to full-staff.
11. Observing Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery dates back to 1868 (the Cemetery being on the grounds of the former home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee).
12. Some Southern State still celebrate a ‘Confederate Memorial Day’ in April.