Americans in Yuma and across the country spent Monday remembering and celebrating the lives of the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the land of the free.
Originally known as Declaration Day, Memorial Day is designed to give tribute to all the men and women who have fallen defending the nation.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
â€œToday is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again,â€ said President Ronald Reagan in a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery in 1986.
Although May 5, 1868 is the official proclamation of Memorial Day there is much debate over where Memorial Day actually began.
More than two-dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence of an organized women’s group in the South decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. Waterloo, N.Y. was ultimately declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966.
â€œIt is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all,â€ stated Gen. Loganâ€™s proclamation.
Though the last Monday in May is often times viewed as an extra day off for barbeques and parades many efforts have been make to restore the traditional observances of Memorial Day into place.
On January 19, 1999, Bill S 189 was introduced to the Senate, which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of “the last Monday in May”.
Also in December 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed which asks, at 3 p.m. local time all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”