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When is Memorial Day?  
Mothers Day,  When is Mothers Day?
When is
Memorial Day?
Memorial Day 2012 - Monday, May 28

It was 1866 and the United States was recovering from the long and bloody
Civil War between the North and the South. Surviving soldiers came home,
some with missing limbs, and all with stories to tell. Henry Welles, a
drugstore owner in Waterloo, New York, heard the stories and had an idea.
He suggested that all the shops in town close for one day to honor the
soldiers who were killed in the Civil War and were buried in the Waterloo
cemetery. On the morning of May 5, the townspeople placed flowers,
wreaths and crosses on the graves of the Northern soldiers in the
cemetery. At about the same time, Retired Major General Jonathan A.
Logan planned another ceremony, this time for the soldiers who survived
the war. He led the veterans through town to the cemetery to decorate their
comrades' graves with flags. It was not a happy celebration, but a memorial.
The townspeople called it Decoration Day.

In Retired Major General Logan's proclamation of Memorial Day, he

"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with
flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in
defense of their country and during the late rebellion, and whose bodies
now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In
this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and
comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials
of respect as circumstances may permit."

The two ceremonies were joined in 1868, and northern states
commemorated the day on May 30. The southern states commemorated
their war dead on different days. Children read poems and sang civil war
songs and veterans came to school wearing their medals and uniforms to
tell students about the Civil War. Then the veterans marched through their
home towns followed by the townspeople to the cemetery. They decorated
graves and took photographs of soldiers next to American flags. Rifles were
shot in the air as a salute to the northern soldiers who had given their lives
to keep the United States together.

In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day and soldiers who had died
in previous wars were honored as well. In the northern United States, it was
designated a public holiday. In 1971, along with other holidays, President
Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday on the last Monday
in May.

Cities all around the United States hold their own ceremonies on the last
Monday in May* to pay respect to the men and women who have died in
wars or in the service of their country.

Memorial Day is not limited to honor only those Americans from the armed
forces. It is also a day for personal remembrance. Families and individuals
honor the memories of their loved ones who have died. Church services,
visits to the cemetery, flowers on graves or even silent tribute mark the day
with dignity and solemnity. It is a day of reflection. However, to many
Americans the day also signals the beginning of summer with a three-day
weekend to spend at the beach, in the mountains or at home relaxing.

In Waterloo, New York, the origin has not been lost and in fact the meaning
has become even more special. President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed
Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966, 100 years after the first
commemoration. Every May 30, townspeople still walk to the cemeteries
and hold memorial services. They decorate the graves with flags and
flowers. Then they walk back to the park in the middle of town. In the middle
of the park, near a monument dedicated to soldiers, sailors and marines,
the Gettysburg address is read, followed by Retired Major General Logan's
Order # 11 designating Decoration Day. The village choirs sing patriotic
songs. In the evening, school children take part in a parade.

Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is the nation's largest national
cemetery. Not only are members of the armed forces buried here;
astronauts, explorers and other distinguished Americans have all been
honored with a special place here. President John F. Kennedy is buried in a
spot overlooking Washington, D.C.

Here in the early hours of the Friday morning before Memorial Day, soldiers
of the Third U.S. infantry walk along the rows of headstones. Each soldier
stops at a headstone, reaches to a bundle of flags he is carrying, pulls one
out and pushes it into the ground. These soldiers are part of a special
regiment. the Old Guard. Most consider it a privilege to place flags on the
more than two hundred thousand graves of soldiers who served in the wars
or who died in them. "They have done their job," said one soldier, "and now
it's my turn to do mine."

It is an equal honor to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier all year.
There are actually four soldiers buried in this spot: the unknown soldiers of
the two World Wars, the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam War. Each soldier
represents all of those who gave their lives in the modern wars. Soldiers
from the Army's Third Infantry guard the tomb twenty-four hours a day.
Wreath-laying ceremonies take place all through the year and people from
all over the world come to watch the changing of the guard. On another hill
of Arlington Cemetery there is a mass grave of unidentified soldiers from
the Civil War.

On Memorial Day, the President or Vice President of the United States
gives a speech and lays a wreath on the tombs. Members of the armed
forces shoot a rifle salute in the air. Veterans and families come to lay their
own wreaths and say prayers. There is a chance that one of the soldiers
buried here is a father, son, brother or friend.