Memorial Day, 1865-2022
Today we appreciate all the men and women who have given their lives in military service for America.
The Beginning of Memorial Day
In the summer of 1865, pharmacist Henry C. Welles of Waterloo, New York, attended a social gathering with friends. He mentioned the idea of placing flowers on the graves of men who had died during the Civil War. The following spring Welles suggested the idea again to General John B. Murray, who began to spread the idea among veterans. Welles and Murray began working together to take action on Welles’ idea.
On May 5, 1866, local residents flew flags at half mast and decorated their poles with evergreens and black bunting. General Murray led veterans, clubs, and townspeople in a parade to the town’s three cemeteries. At the cemeteries, townspeople decorated the graves of soldiers and held ceremonies. The town repeated these activities the following year.
In 1868 General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared that a day of memorial should be held on May 30th, and Waterloo began to hold its ceremonies on that day. For many years, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day.
In 1966 Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York recognized Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day. That same year the United States Congress also unanimously passed a resolution “in recognition of the patriotic tradition set in motion one hundred years ago in the Village of Waterloo, New York,” as the birthplace of Memorial Day.
The town of Waterloo, New York, is home to the National Memorial Day Museum. The museum is housed in an historic home.
Scenes from Past Memorial Days in America
President Herbert Hoover places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1929.
Artists working in the Depression-era Federal Art Project created this poster in 1936 or 1937.
Senator Robert Taft, son of President William Howard Taft, speaks at the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, on Memorial Day in 1939.
In 1942 Americans of Japanese ancestry attend Memorial Day services at Manzanar, a War Relocation Authority center in California.
The American Legion band plays at the Memorial service in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on Memorial Day in 1943.
A young patriot smiles for the camera at the Memorial Day ceremonies in Ashland, Maine, in 1943. Notice the poppy on the jacket of the person beside him.
Mourners place objects beside the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This is the scene there on Memorial Day in 2006.
Lesley Dennis took her children to see the grave of her grandfather Louis Earl Miles during a Memorial Day service at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 2021. She told her boys about how special their great-grandfather was and how much he meant to the family, and she told them about good times they had with him.
Neither Ray nor I had been born when our soldier daddies were discharged from the U.S. Army. We are both grateful that they were both among the soldiers who came home. Daddy served during the Korean War, but I praise God that he did not have to go to Korea to fight in the war.
Ray’s daddy served in the medical corps and was in every major campaign in Europe from D-Day until VE Day (Victory in Europe) Day during World War II.
On this Memorial Day 2022, we remember people who have given their lives for America. We also remember the sacrifice of our Savior Who gave His life so that we could live with Him forever.
For while we were still helpless,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will hardly die for a righteous person;
though perhaps for the good person
someone would even dare to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.