Commemorating Memorial Day

A nationally recognized holiday, Memorial Day has been celebrated since its inception in 1868. That year it was first observed as “Decoration Day,” and proclaimed as such by General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic (Union Veterans) in remembrance of soldiers killed during the Civil War. The first observance took place at Arlington National Cemetery (Virginia) in 1868 with various military commanders, politicians, and military family members in attendance. A speech by James Garfield, (a former General and future 20th U.S. President) was recited to thousands of attendees while they also read prayers and decorated the graves of fallen soldiers with wreaths, flowers, and flags. In 1873, Memorial Day was the first to be legally acknowledged by the state of New York as a holiday with many more states following in the years thereafter.

After World War I, more widespread attention to the holiday became apparent and was to commemorate all fallen soldiers in American history in various wars past and present. May 30th had originally been chosen as the day for remembrance but was later changed to the last Monday in the month of May beginning in 1971 with the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act becoming an official federal holiday. Interestingly, It should also be noted that many Southern States also commemorate “Confederate Memorial Day,” throughout the year, an official state holiday in places such as Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and partially in Texas known as “Confederate Heroes Day,” commemorating fallen Confederate soldiers from the American Civil War. This has raised issues in recent years and has spurred controversy due to the Confederacy’s ties to slavery, but is still observed nonetheless.

Arlington National Cemetery: Arlington, Virginia

Today, our nationally celebrated Memorial Day is commemorated with parades around the United States, and with community gatherings, visits to military cemeteries, BBQs, sports activities, and localized events. The U.S. President typically also gives a speech at Arlington National Cemetery each year while American flags are placed upon unmarked and known soldiers’ grave sites. This event is free and open to the public. As we reflect upon Memorial Day today, let us all take a moment to remember our American heroes and military personnel, both men and women, past and present who sacrificed their lives for the sake of duty and loyalty to our country.

 “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.” – James A. Garfield, May 30th, 1868, Arlington National Cemetery



  • Jenny Castro

    Jenny Castro is a part of the editorial team for Latinitas Magazine. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Justice from Central Washington University, and also holds a certificate in women’s entrepreneurial studies from the University of Washington. Jenny has a passion for storytelling, and loves highlighting diverse topics such as historical events, pop-culture, music, film, and leaders in the Latino community. She strives to provoke thoughtful and factual genuine storytelling in her pieces and takes pride in researching truth and authenticity. In her free time, she spends time reading her favorite books, and watching classic Hollywood films. In 2020, Jenny also appeared on the Turner Classic Movies Network where she provided commentary on classic film. She is excited to be a part of the Latinitas team.

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