Decoration Day

I am going to show my age by saying that I remember when this holiday was called “Decoration Day.” It wasn’t until 1971 that it became an official federal holiday and the name changed to Memorial Day.

I’m not a big history buff, but I love finding bits and pieces of fascinating historical events that have helped to form us into what we are today.

I discovered that the first time this day was set aside to honor those who gave their lives in battle happened shortly after the end of the bloody Civil War.

(Copied from the website) On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

And there you have it. When I was a kid, we would load up the car and travel from Hobbs, New Mexico to California on May 30th to visit my dad’s family. Those trips were some of my most vivid childhood memories. Little did I know the date had anything to do with veterans or war. For me, seen through the eyes of a child, it was just our time to go to California.

I’ll share a quick story from one of those trips. Let me preface this by saying that our dad did not like to stop. He saw it as a precious waste of time, so all mandatory stops were short and sweet.

We pulled into a service station somewhere in Arizona for gas. That was back in the day when a person came out, filled up your car, checked your oil, and washed your windshield. (And they didn’t even expect a tip!) So, while Dad was talking to the service station attendant, Mom, myself and my sister got out of the back seat to go use the restroom.

As soon as the car was serviced, Dad jumped back in and took off without ever glancing in the backseat. He made it several miles down the road before he realized we weren’t back there. 🙂 Needless to say, Mom was not a happy camper by the time he got back to the station, and she let him know about it the rest of the way to California.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day everyone!!

32 thoughts on “Decoration Day

  1. I’ll show my age, too, although you’re not going to like it. The name changed the year I was born, so I’ve only ever celebrated Memorial Day (although I did know it had another name first).

    I love your story about vacation. There’s a similar one in my husband’s family. What is it with men not wanting to stop? (Or checking the car before they go?)

    Hope you had a nice holiday. Love the graphic. It really is important we remember the fallen. Once a year seems so inadequate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, Staci. Once a year to honor those who gave their lives to keep us free does not seem adequate. Yes, men and trips are stories within themselves. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by. You are just a baby. I’m twenty years older than you. 🙂 Age is just a number. I am healthy and blessed! Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That was some story of the California trip, Jan! It had me laughing, but I’m sure your mom found it far from funny at the time. 🙂

    I’ve done a fair amount of research on the Civil War so I knew how Decoration Day came about and why, but–although I was a kid in 1971–I don’t remember the official name change. And I guess I was too young to even remember the holiday being called Decoration Day. To me it has always been Memorial Day. Although, whatever it’s name—a very special day. DH and I went out for breakfast this morning, and on the drive home noted many, many flags raised in honor of those who served.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the California story, Mae. 🙂 No, Mom had no sense of humor about it that day and for a long time afterward, but finally was able to laugh about it and shake her head when she remembered. 🙂 How wonderful to see all the flags raised to show respect and honor for those lives lost defending our beautiful country! I’m thrilled that you stopped by. I enjoyed your comment. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jan, your blog brought smiles and tears. Smiles of fond memories when we took Sunday drives or car vacations and the various adventures associated with them.
    The tears are for all those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
    Wishing you a blessed Memorial Day.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wonderful post, Jan! Thanks for the Memorial Day history lesson––I had no clue. Thanks for the story about your family. It’s a funny story but I’m sure at the time your mom was livid. Happy Memorial Day! 😀 xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Vashti. It’s always fun to learn something new! Yes, it is an understatement to say that Mom was livid. And she didn’t let Dad forget it for a long time!! 🙂 Happy Memorial Day to you too! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s too funny when you look back on it I bet. Lol

    I had forgotten it was originally called “Decoration Day”, that seems like a very odd name to us now.

    Happy Memorial Day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It definitely has brought lots of laughs over the years when we talk about it! I’m happy you stopped by and I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend!


  6. Happy Memorial Day Jan.
    What a great memory which now I imagine you can laugh about, memories are great ways to celebrate a holiday.
    Love you so much and I hope you have a great weekend & week! 💖🦋🌷🐬🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jan, I was alive and well when the name changed, but I can’t recall the holiday being called Decoration Day. For years, I didn’t understand the entire reason we celebrate, thinking it was a day to honor all who served in the military. But that’s reserved for Veterans Day. I have the utmost respect for those who have served in our country and honor those who died in that service.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Too funny, Jan. My dad was impatient and did not like to stop for any reason. Of course, with the car full of children, there were always multiple reasons to stop. I remember dad starting the motor before all of us were in the car, and everyone yelling at him not to go. There were several close calls!! ♥

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I really love your story about the trip to California and you being left behind at the service station.
    Hilarious. Your Dad was in a hurry 🙂
    It was also interesting to learn about origin of Memorial Day.


    Liked by 2 people

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