Memorial Day is a Federal holiday in the United States remembering the people who died while serving in the armed forces. It began as Decoration Day after the civil war in 1868 in Decatur, Illinois, when an organization of Union veterans decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers. Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, many commemorative events took place including a more formal practice of decorating graves of soldiers as well as the creation of national military cemeteries., Memorial Day was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 P.M
In March I was in Washington DC. And I took the evening monuments tour. It was the first time I had visited the National World War II Memorial which honors all 16 million people who served as part of the American armed forces, including the more than 400,000 who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The memorial sits along the central vista of the National Mall, at the east end of the Reflecting Pool.
Public memorials and monuments attract millions of visitors each year throughout this country. Memorials serve many functions such as preserving history, connecting us to those we lost, remembering, aiding in the grieving process, educating visitors. Indeed, most Americans are familiar with the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Wall, and other tributes in the nation’s capital and numerous memorials throughout the country. America’s passion for public memorials began with the Washington Monument which was completed in 1885.
My favorite part of the tour was walking through the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. On the National mall, it is the fourth to honor a non-president and the first to honor a man of color. The memorial was designed as a lasting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and will forever serve as a monument to the freedom, opportunity and justice for which he stood.
”The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders. The two boulders, which started as one, represent the Mountain of Despair. The boulders are split in half to give way to the Stone of Hope, which appears to have been thrust forward toward the horizon in a great monolithic struggle. The Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair together represent the soul-stirring words from Dr. King’s history-making “I Have a Dream” speech. On the visible side of the Stone of Hope, the text from King’s famed 1963 speech is cut sharply into the rock: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Every visitor enters through the Mountain of Despair and tours the memorial as if moving through the struggle that Dr. King faced during his life. Visitors end in the open freedom of the plaza. The solitary Stone of Hope stands proudly in the plaza, where the civil rights leader gazes over the Tidal Basin toward the horizon, forever encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality.” – See more at: http://washington.org/article/martin-luther-king-jr-memorial#sthash.jQ1dVUT6.dpuf
On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day who resolve their sacrifices were not in vain and that we continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.