Memorial Day!

What is the meaning of Memorial Day?

That can sometimes get lost in the barbeques, travel plans and celebrations of this holiday season.

It’s sometimes called the official start of the summer season, but for the past 143 years its purpose has been to honor Americans who have died in war.

The day differs from Veterans Day in November, when the nation pauses to remember all its members of the armed forces.

Memorial Day is designed to recognize the 1.8 million Americans who have been killed in our nation’s wars since 1775.

The day has its roots in the Civil War, our nation’s deadliest war. More than 600,000 Union and Confederate fighters died in that four-year conflict.

Days were set aside during that war to remember the soldiers who had perished.

On May 5, 1868, Gen. John Logan officially proclaimed a Memorial Day holiday. It was celebrated on May 30 that year, according to the website

Until World War One, the holiday observed only those who died in the Civil War. After the first World War, Memorial Day was used to honor those who died in all of our country’s wars.

It has since been moved to the final Monday in May. That was made official by an act of Congress in 1971.

I think a great think to write about today in honor of Memorial Day is how the various wars had an impact on your family.  Have you had family members serve in the various armed services?  Have you lost some of your ancestors to war?  I have always in the past marked Memorial Day as the day that summer was getting close. Picnics and barbeques, but never really focused on what the true meaning of this day actually means.  Today, let’s all stop and pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed for our beautiful country.

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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