Today, in the U.S. we celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a holiday that was first observed in 1868, to mark the sacrifices of the Civil War, when participants decorated the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. General John A. Logan is credited with issuing the proclamation.
In the Civil War, 620,000 soldiers were killed. For many years, what is now Memorial Day was known as “Decoration Day.” It was used to commemorate those killed in the Civil War and was observed on May 30. After World War I, however, the tradition was expanded to honor those killed in all wars.
In 1971, the last Monday in May was declared to be Memorial Day and a national holiday. For many years, led by the late Senator Daniel Inouye, of Hawaii, who was a decorated World War II veteran, legislation was reintroduced to change it back to May 30, to reemphasize that the meaning of the holiday is to honor the nation’s war dead, not the first long weekend of the summer.
Approximately thirty percent of all U.S. mesothelioma victims are military veterans. For many, their exposure can be traced back to asbestos exposure from service to our country decades earlier. On Memorial Day, we honor their sacrifice. Not all soldiers are killed on the battlefield, or in combat – some suffer their fate decades later in the form of a rare, fatal cancer.
When you Google Memorial Day, some of the first items to come up in the results include the best Memorial Day sales of 2017 on refrigerators and washers, and the 10 most popular Memorial Day travel destinations for 2017. In order for all of us to enjoy these luxuries, recognize that those before us sacrificed to make it possible.
On this Memorial Day, remember it is a holiday to reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. Remember and honor and find time to ensure that the true meaning of Memorial Day is acknowledged.