America Unites to Remember
The Origins of Memorial Day
The Civil War left the nation divided and families fractured. Civil War veterans were inspired when they saw a woman and her children place flowers on a soldier’s grave. The veterans decided to do the same at other military graves. Women in the North and South, in a gesture of impartial generosity, decorated the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers. Across the country, people soon gathered for prayer to honor the war dead and to lay flowers upon their graves. In 1868, General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, ordered that the 30th day of May be designed for this purpose.
Memorial Day had become an occasion to honor all those who died in service to the nation, from the Revolutionary War to the present. It is a time to rededicate ourselves to the ideals for which they gave their lives and to teach children the importance of remembrance. In 1968, the observance of Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May.
National Moment of Remembrance
In 2000, NGL initiated the Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance to honor those who died in service to our country. With the support of then Senator Chuck Hagel, the Moment was officially established by Congress through Public Law 106-579 in 2000. NGL asks all Americans to pause for a moment of respect for America’s Fallen at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day and to make a commitment to live honoring them every day. They gave their lives for us to live a good life. All you need to do is to live a good life. Do good in the world in their memory.
The first supporter of the Moment was Major League Baseball. Since 2000, MLB has stopped all games in progress at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day to observe the National Moment of Remembrance:
The umpire steps out from home plate, removes his mask, and halts the game so that everyone can pause. The crowd rises as one with hands over their hearts as Taps is played.
How It Began
A few days before Memorial Day, Carmella asked, on a whim, a group of school children touring Washington D.C., what Memorial Day meant to them. When they responded, “It’s the day pools open,” she became determined to reinforce the meaning of Memorial Day with the creation of a National Moment of Remembrance to ensure that those who died for us would not be forgotten.
As we celebrate Memorial Day as a nation, we should ask ourselves what the sacrifices men and women have made mean to us. Memorial (meaning to remember) Day was originally called Decoration Day. One could say that we must not make Memorial Day about sales at stores, hotdogs and hamburgers, fireworks and the start of the summer season. Yet, the simplicities of American life and the freedom to live the American way are exactly why our men and women shed their blood. Our sadness is that we cannot share the simple joys with them on earth. Please spend a moment to honor them in gratitude for the freedoms they died for that we enjoy every day.