Memorial Day for Prayer for Peace is observed annually on the last Monday of May. This year, it occurs on May 29. The day honours the men and women of the U.S. military who perished fighting for the freedom of every American and the peace, unity, and order of the entire nation. The day began decades after the American Civil War and became a national holiday in 1971. It is a day for all Americans to pray for peace, visit cemeteries and memorials, conduct family gatherings, and march in parades to honour the nation’s fallen servicemen and women.
HISTORY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE MEMORIAL DAY
Prayer for Peace Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, has a lengthy history in the United States. Shortly after the end of the American Civil War in 1865, Americans would decorate the graves of deceased soldiers with flowers and recite a prayer. While the origin of the official Prayer for Peace Memorial Day is unknown, early historical records indicate that one of the first Memorial Day traditions was conducted in Charleston, South Carolina, in honour of the Confederacy’s surrender. This event was organised by formerly enslaved individuals who celebrated their freedom and honoured the fallen soldiers who fought during the four-year conflict.
In 1868, U.S. President James Garfield delivered a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, marking the first official National Decoration Day. He described the significance and significance of this commemoration. It was witnessed by 5,000 people who placed flowers on 20,000 graves.
In 1966, however, the federal government officially recognised Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day. This was due to the New Yorkers’ annual custom of organising a community-wide event in which businesses closed and people visited and decorated the graves of fallen servicemen. Congress formally designated Prayer for Peace Memorial Day as a holiday to be observed annually on the last Monday of May in 1971.
Memorial Day 2023 (US): History, Dates and Significance
Five IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT PRAYER FOR PEACE DAY
The holiday’s originator
In 1868, General John A. Logan issued an order declaring May 30 as the national Prayer for Peace Memorial Day.
Women’s organisations initiated the memorial.
Prior to the end of the war, women’s organisations in the Southern states congregated on a variety of occasions to honour the fallen soldiers.
The holiday’s location of origin
At least 20 communities, including Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and Carbondale, Illinois, have claimed to be Decoration Day’s birthplace, as its origin has always been obscure.
The ancestry of the crimson poppy
The tradition of wearing a red poppy on Prayer for Peace Memorial Day originated in John McCrae’s poem ‘In Flanders Field,’ in which he described the soldiers slain beneath a poppy-covered field during World War I.
Traditions have changed over the years.
Since its official proclamation in 1971, Prayer for Peace Memorial Day customs and traditions include flying the flag at half-staff until noon and halting at 3 p.m. local time.
PRAYER FOR PEACE MEMORIAL DAY DATES