It was the spring of 1865, and the Civil War had just ended, claiming more lives in conflict than any other war in US history. The country established the first national cemeteries to honor their ultimate sacrifice. It was originally called Decoration Day, but officially became “Memorial Day” in 1971, occuring on the last Monday in May. It is set aside as a time to honor the men and women who died while serving in the US military.
A Bit of History
Right after the Civil War, Americans were striving to come back together, after brother had fought against brother, and states had been torn apart by the Civil War. People wanted a way to bring honor and remembrance to the countless fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers, which is why it was called Decoration Day in the beginning.
The official birthplace of Decoration Day was Waterloo, New York. Waterloo first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866. It hosted an annual community-wide event where the town shut down and residents carried flowers and flags to the cemeteries to honor and remember their loved ones lost in battle.
Did You Know?
Every year on Memorial Day there is a national moment of remembrance that occurs at 3:00 pm local time. The date, (the last Monday in May,) was chosen because it would not be the same date of any particular battle, but rather honor all who have served. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 people were there to decorate the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
Memorial Day Festivities Around the Country
At Fleet Oil & Truck Supply, we know you may be working the holiday weekend. You may also have some much-needed time off with your family and friends and firing up the barbeque. We wanted to give you a few ideas of festivities going on around the country to kick-start your summer!
Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy
It certainly will be in Palm Springs, California, where the temperatures are still bearable, and it’s not far to stretch your legs with a hike through the Joshua Tree National Park. It’s an easy getaway if you are coming from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix or Las Vegas.
Strike Up the Band
As you would expect, our nation’s capital is the most patriotic place to celebrate Memorial Day. On Thursday, May 24th, soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery will put flags before each gravestone: a majestic sight. On Memorial Day, the Tomb of the Unknowns will take center stage as a wreath-laying ceremony occurs, and the US Army Band performs. Sunday evening, there will be a National Memorial Concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. It’s a relatively quick trip if you are coming from Baltimore, Boston, Albany or Charleston.
Feeling the Blues
St. Louis is hosting the Bluesweek Festival on Memorial Day weekend, with performances from more than 50 musicians. Pork Shop will be there on Memorial Day weekend, which is a combination of a community garage sale and neighborhood barbeque. Nearby is the largest flea market in the Midwest, so you won’t be lacking for something to do! It’s an easy getaway from Chicago, Cincinnati or Kansas City.
Lake Travis will be hosting a huge Memorial Day celebration. You can find classes and events offered all weekend, or rent a ski boat for an hour or two. Then on Memorial Day, you can check out the Capital of Texas Triathalon and it’s 3,000 participants. They start with a swim at Lady Bird Lake, then hop on their bikes for a race through Austin, the end with a foot race around the southern part of the lake. It’s an easy getaway from Dallas or Houston.
At Fleet Oil & Truck Supply, we know your time at home is limited and well-deserved. If you are on the road and want to catch one of these events, or want to put on your chef’s apron and do some first-class grilling, we wish you a wonderful Memorial Day and start to your summer season! Contact us if we can be of service to you!