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.
The Civil War dead. Top photo: three cannons leaning together as a Civil War monument in Hope Cemetery, second photo: Civil War graves at Hope Cemetery. The bottom is a historical photo of Triumphal Arch erected in Worcester July 4th 1865, celebrating the return of soldiers at the end of the Civil War.
The Florence Stockade- From September 1864 through February 1865 approximately 16,000 Union soldiers were held captive in Florence.
Florence County, South Carolina-This illustration looks from the south wall along the sole water source for the prison, the Pye Branch of Stockade Creek.
A stockade was constructed here to accommodate prisoners, previously incarcerated at Andersonville and other prisons in south Georgia. These prisoners were moved as a result of Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union Forces heading to Savannah in the now famous “March to the Sea.” Approximately 2,802 Union soldiers died and many are buried as “unknowns” in the adjacent Florence National Cemetery. The Friends of the Florence Stockade held an official public opening on May 31, 2008. The site now includes parking area, and offers an interpretive gazebo and guided walking trail with interpretation about the history of the stockade.
In the five months this stockade was in operation, as many as 18,000 Union soldiers were held there. With an initial death rate of 20 to 30 men a day, a total of about 2,800 would perish. Among them were as many as 14 of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey soldiers captured on May 14, 1864 during the fighting on Myer’s Hill, near Spotsylvania Courthouse. Accurate death and burial records failed to survive the war, and these men may likely be interred in the 16 burial trenches containing 2,167 “unknowns”, at what is now the Florence National Cemetery.
The Stockade as it looks today, photos submitted to the Civil War Parlor by http://southcarolinadove.tumblr.com/
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.
In early 1861 he enlisted in the United States’ Union Army, recruited a company of Polish immigrants, and became Colonel of the 58th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, listed in the official Army Register as the “Polish Legion”. In 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general.
In the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Krzyżanowski helped repel an evening assault by the famed Louisiana Tigers on the Union defenses atop East Cemetery Hill. After the Civil War, he held several government posts, and may have been the first American administrator of Alaska Territory.