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Remembering American Soldiers this Memorial Day

This holiday weekend, we recognize soldiers who were killed serving in our Armed Forces in all American-fought wars since the Revolutionary War each year on Memorial Day. However, it wasn’t always celebrated on the last Monday of each May, and originally it was a day to decorate graves of fallen soldiers.

Although Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday of May each year, It was deemed “Decoration Day” at first, originally celebrated on different days in the month of May.


The First Memorial Day

During the Civil War, America lost more than half a million young men (and some women) to the woes of battle. By the time the war was over, every community across the land knew of at least one soldier who had died “for the cause”. It was at the end of the Civil War that people began to decorate the graves of lost heroes with ribbons, flowers and decorations in tribute to the sacrifices made.

These actions of memorializing soldiers became so widespread that a little town in New York, Waterloo, made the decision to close its businesses one day each year in order for loved ones to participate in decorating ceremonies for their Civil War soldiers. The first day this took place in Waterloo was May 5, 1868, and so the town was deemed the birthplace of Memorial Day.


Decoration Day goes National

On May 30 of that same year, Decoration Day was made a national holiday after General John Logan had an idea: He wanted to combine all of the local decorating services into one large national holiday. On this first official National Decoration Day, more than 5,000 widows, orphans and citizens gathered at Arlington National Cemetery and decorated more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers’ graves in remembrance.

Throughout the following years, Decoration Day ceremonies were held each May, with special events such as concerts, poetry readings, and even re-enactments of battles taking place at Civil War historical locations across the country. As festivities expanded to include many activities in addition to decorating graves, the official name of Decoration Day became “Memorial Day”.


All Soldiers in All Wars

The United States lost over 130,000 soldiers to the battles of World War I, and as the War came to a close, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed to be a day to recognize all American soldiers who had lost their lives in battle – not just those who died during the Civil War, but every war as far back as the Revolutionary War.


The Modern Memorial Day

So why and how did Memorial Day move from the 30th of every May to being held on the last Monday of the month? Memorial Day became a Federal holiday in 1971, and the day was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May so that federal workers could always enjoy a three-day weekend, allowing more time for travel and tribute. As you are enjoying a long weekend, be sure to remember those soldiers who gave up all of their days so you can enjoy yours!


Contact Masters Heating & Cooling, Inc. and schedule a check-up for your air conditioner to make sure your Memorial Day is celebrated in comfort.


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