Memorial Day. Each year, the last Monday in May marks a celebration for Americans. Many, especially in New Jersey, flock to the shore or have barbeques with friends and family to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer. The three-day weekend brings with it a festive atmosphere for all those seeking to enjoy the warmer air and a break from work. Lost within this celebration is the very basic reason why this three-day weekend exists in the first place. As important as it is to enjoy the time off with loved ones, it is equally important to understand that many sacrifices had to be made for this holiday to take shape.
The tradition of honoring those who have died in battle is rooted in antiquity. The origins of Memorial Day stem from the Civil War. Many local observances in cities throughout the North and South were held both during and shortly after the Civil War. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs, approximately twenty-five places have been named in connection with the origins of Memorial Day. As more and more members of the Union and Confederate armies perished each day, it was only appropriate to observe the sacrifices they made with their lives on the battlefield. The tradition of honoring those who have died in battle is rooted in antiquity.
On May 5, 1868, Major General John A. Logan declared that May 30, 1868 would be known as “Decoration Day” and it would mark the time that the nation, as whole, decorate the graves of those who died during the Civil War, with flowers. Decoration Day was an opportunity for American’s to gather together and pay respects for those who had laid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Following both the First and Second World War, many American’s began recognizing Decoration Day as “Memorial Day” and observed not just the lives lost during the Civil War, but also the lives of those Americans lost during any war.
Memorial Day, as we now know it, was established as a Federal holiday through the passage and enactment of the National Holiday Act, Public Law 90-363. The Act was passed by Congress in 1968 and took effect on January 1, 1971. The Act changed the traditional date of May 30 to the last Monday in May for national observance.
In order to make sure that our fallen soldiers are in our thoughts and that the true meaning of Memorial Day is not forgotten, Congress passed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act”, Public Law 106-579, on December 28, 2000. The National Moment of Remembrance Act established 3:00 p.m. local time as the “National Moment of Remembrance” where we are asked to pause for a moment to recognize those lives lost during war.
While many issues may divide us for one reason or other, there can be no doubt the importance of recognizing the lives of our fallen soldiers. For over 200 years, many have died in sacrifice not just to their country, but to each of us individually. This Memorial Day, while you may be enjoying time spent with friends and family, be sure to take one moment out of your day to remember those who have perished and their loved ones.
Matthew R. Tavares focuses his practice in Litigation, Employment Law, Workers Compensation and Municipal Court matters. He is a trained mediator and has successfully mediated small claims and special civil part matters.
Mr. Tavares received his Juris Doctor from Western New England University School of Law in 2013, and obtained licensure in New Jersey in the same year. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History and Criminal Justice in 2010 from the University of Delaware. Matt is a member of the Hunterdon County Bar Association, is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Matthew was sworn in as a member of the New York State Bar in February 2016. You may contact Matt at (908) 751-1551, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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