Filling in for Beth Trissel, and I apologize for the late posting. Totally my fault, not hers.
Memorial Day began in 1868 as a day to recognize the Civil War soldiers who died in combat. The day was called Decoration Day because people would observe the day by going to gravesites and cleaning up the area and leaving wreaths and flowers at graves. New York was the first state to declare Decoration Day a national holiday in 1873, and due to public requests, most states followed. As a result of World War I, the day was firmly established in the country as a day to recognize those veterans who died in wars.
In 1971, Congress passed a law that Memorial Day would be a national holiday occurring each year on the last Monday of May. Today, people leave a wreath on each grave at the Arlington National Cemetery and the president or vice president will leave a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
But, while I firmly believe that we should recognize and remember those who have died in wars, I still think its okay to celebrate. Celebrate by coming together. Putting aside political differences and sharing a meal, a day, some fellowship. This is still America, after all.