Memorial Day originally called the Decoration Day, is a United States federal holiday observed in the memory of all those who died in the nation's service. It was formerly called the decorative day as the day is observed by decorating the graves of those soldiers who readily sacrificed their life for the country and countrymen. It is observed on the last Monday in the month of May every year and this year (2016) it will be celebrated on May 30.
The birthplace of the Memorial Day is believed to be Waterloo in New York. This place observed its first memorial day on may 5 1866, and has been doing it annually from there on. The town made Memorial Day an annual and community wide event when the business closed and the graves were decorated with flowers and flags. And in the year 1966 a presidential proclamation was signed to recognize Waterloo as the birthplace of the Memorial Day, by the federal government under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The day was first proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in the year 1868 and the first Memorial Day was observed on May 30 the same year. The day was observed by placing flowers and decorating the graves of more than 20,000 soldiers buried at Arlington cemetery. Though most of the northern states started celebrating the day after the 1868 proclamation, but the southern United States refused to celebrate the Decoration Day, and they continued honoring their dead on a separate day till the end of world war I.
Following the end of the civil war, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. And the celebration of Memorial Day in 1868 was inspired by the local observance of the day in different parts of northern and southern United States, which took place three years after the civil war. Though originally it was a day to commemorate the brave services of men and women in the civil war, now it honors all the people who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Spanish American war. This day is celebrated to remember, to reflect and honor men and women who gave their soul and life for their country. We should never forget that they were ready to lose their life so that their country and countrymen would be safe and happy and must never cease from being thankful to them.
The Memorial Day is observed around the state by visiting memorials and cemetery. The graveyard is cleaned and the tombs of those who died for the country are decorated with flowers and a flag each is placed on the grave by the local volunteers. The flag of the country is kept at half staff from dawn to noon to show our respect to all those who died serving the nation, and a national moment of remembrance takes place around three in the noon. Today, members of Veterans of Foreign War collect donation for the poppy in the days preceding the Memorial Day. Artificial red poppies were first sold by Miona Michelin, who was inspired from the poem "In Flanders Field" to raise donation for servicemen in need. In the 1920's poppies were sold to raise funds to war orphaned children and widowed women. And this tradition is followed in many places till today.
To respect the men and women who gave lives for their country, The National Memorial Day Concert is conducted at the west lawn of United States Capitol. The Memorial Day is observed at Arlington church by ceremonial lacing of the national flag on the graves. It is also a custom for the president or vice-president of the state to give a speech honoring the dead by mentioning their contribution to the country and the president lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Many individual committees hold memorial observance and services for their fallen soldiers from their town. Local Memorial Day parades are also conducted at many cities and towns by members of community organizations like Rotary clubs, band from local church, Girl scouts and boy scouts.
These traditional observances of the Memorial Day has decreased over years, many places observe this as a holiday and don’t care enough to observe the day with due respect. Many cemeteries and graves are ignored and the Memorial Day parade has become long forgotten in these villages and towns. A "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed so as to remind and re educate the Americans of the importance and real meaning of the day. According to this resolution passed on 2000 December, all the citizens of America are required to observe the day voluntarily and informally in their own way by observing a moment of silence to show their respect and remembrance. Activities and seminars are also conducted at the school level to educate the coming generation f the real purpose of observing the day and what would be the fate of the people and the country today if all those men and women would not have fought for their country.