The story of Memorial Day

America has honored her war dead since 1868.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. The day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan. It was observed later that same month on May 30 by placing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

The first state to recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890, all northern states had recognized the day. After World War I, the holiday changed from only recognizing Civil War dead to those fallen in all American Wars. In 1971, Congress changed the National Holiday to the last Monday in May.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated with many local parades and observances including the placement of American Flags on the graves of fallen service personnel. Arlington National Cemetery currently places American Flags on all 260,000 graves, and has since 1948. They then patrol 24 hours a day over the weekend to insure that each flag remains standing.  

Sadly, some Americans today have forgotten the true meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Some just treat it as an extra day off from work or school, or a big sale at the store.

To remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in 2000. The resolution asks all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to remember our fallen service men and women with a moment of silence or listening to Taps.

The Westlake Historical Society is proud of our city's observance of this special day and is proud to walk in the annual parade.  If you would like to join us, please contact Dave at 440-471-4090.


The Westlake Historical Society regularly receives requests from all over the country to provide family history and photographs of burial sites and head stones. If you would like to assist us, please contact Lysa at or 440-471-4090.

Lysa Stanton and Dave Pfister are members of the Westlake Historical Society.    

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 9:41 PM, 05.14.2010