Memorial Day

Memorial Flags

On Memorial Day we honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. This day is observed by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

By the time the American Civil War had ended in the spring of 1865, more lives had been claimed than in any other conflict is U.S. history. This required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

While it is unclear where this tradition had originated, what with numerous different communities independently initiating the memorial gatherings, Waterloo, New York was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day by the federal government in 1966. Waterloo –  which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866 –  was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. General Logan chose May 30th and called it Decoration Day. The date was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and by 1890, each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually became to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. However during World War I, the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict. The holiday grew to commemorate all American military personnel who died in any war.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30th, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This change, that went into effect in 1971, also declared Memorial Day as a federal holiday.

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Celebrating our American Heroes on Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is a day to pay tribute to the men and women who are currently serving in the United States’ armed forces. Celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May (as part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May), Armed Forces Day was created on August 31, 1949 by Defense Secretary Louis Johnson. This was to replace the separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days into a single day celebration stemming from the unification of the armed forces under one agency, the Department of Defense. The separate days are still observed, especially within the respective services.

US Army Day : June 14th Army 3x5 foot Nylon Flag

US Coast Guard Day : August 4th US Coast Guard 3 x 5 foot Super Knit Polyester Flag

US Air Force Day: September 17th Air Force 3 x 5 foot Nylon  Flag

US Navy Day: October 27th Navy  3 x 5 foot Nylon  Flag

Marine Corps Day: November 10th Marine Corps 3 x 5 foot Nylon Flag

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 20th, 1950. The theme for that day was “Teamed for Defense”, which expressed the unification of all military forces under one government department. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the day was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job was performed and the role of the military in civilian life. It was also a day for the military to show “state-of-the-art” equipment to Americans. Parades, open houses, receptions and air shows were held at the inaugural Armed Forces Day.

Today, Americans come out to celebrate Armed Forces Day by the thousands. Many events take place in cities across the country to honor those who serve. Activities often include parades, military service displays open to the public, educational exhibits to teach children about the armed forces, “Support the Troops” motorcycle rides and more. The bugle call “Taps” is often played at these events as a way to show respect for those who died for their country.

United States Flag Store is here to answer all your questions. Feel free to give us a toll free call at 1-877-734-2458 or email us at support@onlinestores.com.