One of the best parts of writing historical fiction is the research! I learn so many interesting tidbits I’d never come across if it weren’t for research-related rabbit trails.
For example, you likely know that Memorial Day is a day set aside for remembering those who have died in the service of our nation. But did you know that originally, it was proclaimed in honor of the Civil War dead by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic? The order became official on May 5, 1868, and was first observed on May 30 of that year. I did the math. That’s 153 years ago!!
Memorial Day has also been called Decoration Day because it was the tradition to decorate the graves of those who died in the war. The day was moved to the last Monday in May in 1971 to ensure a three-day weekend. (Honestly, doesn’t that seem a tad irreverent?) And, Decoration Day became a day for decorating all graves, not just those of soldiers.
In 2000 a resolution was passed to try and help remind Americans of the true meaning of the day. Signed by Pres. Bill Clinton it include a bullet “Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.”
So at 3 p.m. this afternoon I encourage you to stop whatever you’re doing and say a prayer of thanks for those who have died to protect us and for those who are, even now, willing to do so.