On May 11, 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution requesting that the President proclaim a “Prayer for Peace” on each Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be held on the last Monday of every May.
The commemoration of fallen soldiers was originally called Decoration Day – a time to honor Civil War graves with flowers. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War.
Over time, people adopted the name Memorial Day, and ceremonies were held across the country to honor all U.S. soldiers who had died at war.
This Memorial Day weekend, we honor the men and women who have served our country.
George W. Bush stands with U.S. Army Major General Guy Swan for a moment of silence during the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknowns. 5/29/06.
Harry S. Truman laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Memorial Day ceremonies. 5/30/48.
Ronald Reagan attending a Memorial Day ceremony honoring the Vietnam Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. 5/28/84.
Dwight D. Eisenhower participates in the ceremonies for the internment of the Unknowns of World War II and Korea. Arlington National Cemetery. 5/30/58.
A bugler plays during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery attended by John F. Kennedy. 5/30/63.
Memorial Day 2015 - Remembering The Fallen American Men And Women From All Wars
The Tomb Of The Unknowns With Guards
(Left to right) Sgt. Benton Thames, Sgt. Jeff Binek and Spc. William Johnson change the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The ceremony is full of tradition and meaning.
The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded since July 2, 1937, by the U.S. Army. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) began guarding the Tomb on April 6, 1948. There is a meticulous routine which the guard follows when watching over the graves. The Tomb Guard:
Marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb.
After each turn, the Guard executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the Guard stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.
Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed—the 21-gun salute.
Each turn the guard makes precise movements and followed by a loud click of the heels as he snaps them together. The guard is changed every half hour during daylight in the summer, and every hour during daylight in the winter and every two hours at night (when the cemetery is closed to the public), regardless of weather conditions.
Civil War Veterans Standing By A Memorial At Rosehill Cemetery, 1916
Rosehill Cemetery is a Victorian era cemetery on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois, USA, and at 350 acres, is the largest cemetery in the City of Chicago.
The cemetery contains many monuments that are notable for their beauty and eccentricity
Rosehill includes, among other attractions, the graves of numerous Chicago mayors (including Long John Wentworth), Civil War generals and soldiers, and Charles Gates Dawes, Vice President of the United States. Household names such as Oscar Mayer, Montgomery Ward, and Richard Sears are interred here as well.
Credit: DN-0066351, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.