There was a time many years ago when Memorial Day was primarily a day of parades and special services in cemeteries around the country.

memorialAccording to the History Channel, Memorial Day was an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, that honored men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.

Originating around the time of the Civil War to honor the many dead who had lost their lives in that conflict, it later became a day to honor all of those who had died in the service of their country.

While Waterloo, New York is honored as the birthplace for Memorial Day in 1866, another event predates this occasion. On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, who was the leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month.

“The 30th of May, 1868,” he declared, “is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Calling it Decoration Day, he chose May 30th since it was not the anniversary of any battles.

A number of special commemorations are being held around Virginia on Memorial Day. In addition to ceremonies, you’ll find wineries and other locations holding special activities on that day. The Virginia Tourism Corporation has a great listing of events on their website, Virginia is for Lovers at http://www.virginia.org/memorialday/.

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