Memorial Day: how it got started /and list of some activities
May 29 – MEMORIAL DAY – Celebrate our military! Place a flag at your beloved military person’s grave site. Stop by the Lyons Cemetery and see the flags and “tip your hat” and “touch your heart” as you pass by.
CLOSED — remember federal and local government offices will be closed, including post office and libraries.
Ft. Logan National Cemetery, Denver: Visitation Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset. Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day.
Longmont’s American Legion Post 32 hosts 3 wreath ceremonies and presentations starting at 9 a.m. Monday – concluding with a flag ceremony at the American Legion Post 32, 315 S. Bowen St.
Colorado Freedom Memorial, representing 6,218 military personnel who lost their lives serving our country and freedom. This is an outdoor glass sculpture park with engraved names. Aurora, Colorado. This is the first memorial in America dedicated to ALL wars, ALL branches of service.
ACTIVITIES: Join the 3-day Boulder Creek Festival, Boulder Creek Path // the Estes Park Arts Market in downtown Bond Park, May 27-29 // Denver: May 26-29, 4 day weekend with 4 stages, live music, free.
May 29 – Bolder Boulder—the annual 10-kilometer Memorial Day race – the largest Memorial Day Tribute in the U.S. The ceremony honors all of those who have given their life in military service to our country.
History of Memorial Day
The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day. In many American towns, the day is celebrated with a parade.
Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the Civil War’s end. Records show that by 1865, Mississippi, Virginia, and South Carolina all had precedents for Memorial Day.
When a women’s memorial association in Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers on April 25, 1866, this act of generosity and reconciliation prompted an editorial piece, published by Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and a poem by Francis Miles Finch, “The Blue and the Grey,” published in the Atlantic Monthly. The practice of strewing flowers on soldiers’ graves soon became popular throughout the reunited nation.
President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed Waterloo, New York, as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day,” because it began a formal observance on May 5, 1866. However, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, also claims to have held the first observance, based on an observance dating back to October 1864. Indeed, many other towns also lay claim to being the first to hold an observance.
In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended the honor to all soldiers who died in American wars. A few states continue to celebrate Memorial Day on May 30.
Today, national observance of the holiday still takes place at Arlington National Cemetery with the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the decoration of each grave with a small American flag. Protocol for flying the American flag on Memorial Day includes raising it quickly to the top of the pole at sunrise, immediately lowering it to half-staff until noon, and displaying it at full staff from noon until sunset. For other guidelines see the Flag Code.
Many veterans of the Vietnam War, and relatives and friends of those who fought in that conflict, make a pilgrimage over Memorial Day weekend to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where they pay their respects to another generation of fallen soldiers.