SAN ANGELO – Americans are celebrating Memorial Day as a three day weekend marking the unofficial end to the school year and the beginning of summer with bbq's, boats, outdoor gatherings and other fun events. But Memorial Day is more than that.
According to the History Channel, Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General 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.
The holiday has transformed into a festive event to celebrate the freedoms and traditions those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation fought and died for.