Remember to honor fallen heroes Memorial Day
Published 11:43 pm Sunday, May 28, 2006
On Monday, Americans will pause to reflect on the sacrifices of the members of our armed forces - both those currently wearing the uniform and those who have served in decades-past - who lost their lives in the defense of freedom and liberty for our great nation.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was a day to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. The holiday began during the Civil War when women's groups throughout the south decorated the graves of the Confederate war dead.
Gen. John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers, officially proclaimed Memorial Day in 1868:
During the first celebration, Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, where 5,000 people helped decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery. At the conclusion of World War I, the holiday was changed to honor the war dead from all American conflicts.
In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day traditions take place in towns all across the country.
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place American flags on each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery, and the president or vice-president traditionally lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In St. Louis, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 gravesites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Many other towns host parades and concerts.
Regardless of how you and your family choose to recognize this Memorial Day, I hope each of you will take a moment to remember some of south Alabama's own sons and daughters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending liberty around the globe, particularly those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan: