IN THE LATE 1860s, a tradition of decorating the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers began. In 1868, General John Logan formalized the tradition by declaring May 30 as Decoration Day. Decoration Day gradually become known as Memorial Day, and after World War I, Memorial Day began to commemorate soldiers who had died in any war. In 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and in 1971, Memorial Day was established as the last Monday in May.
Although the emphasis of Memorial Day is still to honor those who died in service to their country, graves of all loved ones are now traditionally decorated on Memorial Day.
It’s an old man’s game. You seldom see anyone under 50 in the cemetery cleaning the headstones, replacing old, faded flowers with fresh ones. Our loved ones aren’t there anyway. We know that. But we’ll honor them as long as we can, until strangers come along and take photographs and wonder who they were.