Today is Memorial Day [May 29, 2006]... a day set aside to honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868. This celebration inspired local observances throughout America, but it wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the official birthplace, which had first celebrated the day in 1866.
Although several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, Waterloo was chosen because the town made the day an annual, community wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Veterans Day, unlike Memorial Day, is celebrated each year on November 11 to honor ALL veterans, living and dead.
Memorial Day celebrations will happen all across Region 8 this weekend... continuing traditions into the 21st century that began many, many years ago.