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Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who gave their lives for their country. Originally, Memorial Day honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now also honors those who died in any war while serving the United States. 

Memorial Day is a legal holiday in most states. Most Northern States and some Southern States observe Memorial Day the last Monday in May. This date was made a federal holiday by a law that became effective in 1971. Most of the Southern States also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates the last Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama celebrates on the fourth Monday in April. Georgia observes this holiday on April 26. North Carolina and South Carolina celebrate it on May 10. Virginia observes the holiday on the last Monday in May. Louisiana observes it on June 3, and Tennessee has a holiday called Confederate Decoration Day on that date. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on January 19. 

Observance. On Memorial Day, people place flowers and flags on the graves of military personnel. Many organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and fraternal groups, march in military parades and take part in special programs. These programs often include the reading of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." Memorials are often dedicated on this day. Military exercises and special programs are held at Gettysburg National Military Park and at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. In addition, to honor those who died at sea, some United States ports organize ceremonies in which miniature ships filled with flowers are set afloat on the water. 

Since the end of World War I, Memorial Day has also been Poppy Day. Volunteers sell small, red artificial poppies in order to help disabled veterans. In recent years, the custom has grown in most families to decorate the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day. 

History. Several communities claim to have originated Memorial Day. But in 1966, the U.S. government proclaimed Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of the holiday. The people of Waterloo first observed Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, to honor soldiers killed in the Civil War. Businesses were closed, and people decorated soldiers' graves and flew flags at half-mast. 

Major General John A. Logan in 1868 named May 30 as a special day for honoring the graves of Union soldiers. Logan served as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. They had charge of Memorial Day celebrations in the Northern States for many years. The American Legion took over this duty after World War I.

A SOLDIER

A soldier is a nobody, we here lots of people say.
He is the outcast of the world and always in the way.

We admit there are bad ones from the Army to the Marines,
but the majority you will find, the most worthy ever seen.

Most people condemn the soldier when he stops to take a drink or two,
but does a soldier condemn you, when you stop to take a few.

Now don't scorn the soldier but clasp him by the hand,
for the uniform he wears means protection to our land.

The government picks its soldier from the million far and wide,
so please place him as your equal good buddies side by side.

When a soldier goes to battle you cheer him on the way,
you say he is a hero when in the ground he lay.

But the hardest battle of the soldier is in the time of peace,
when all mock and scorn him and treat him like a beast.

With these few lines we close sir, we hope we don't offend
but when you meet a soldier just treat him like a friend.

"Author Unknown"
Bataan/Corregidor
 

ęBy Mary D of Simple Elegance
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