May 26, 2014
Memorial Day began to honor the soldiers who died during the Civil War. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was first officially declared May 5, 1868 by a proclamation of Major General John A. Logan, the first President of the Grand Army of the Republic, by General Order No. 11 declaring May 30th as the day of observance.
Over 20 places claim to be the first to have observed "Decoration Day" beginning as early as April of 1866. One hundred years later for its' centennial, Waterloo, NY was named by President Lyndon Johnson and Congress as the "birthplace" of Memorial Day.
After World War I, Memorial Day began to honor the fallen from all American wars. It wasn't until 1971 that Congress made Memorial Day a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday of May. On December 28, 2000, President William Clinton signed the "National Moment of Remembrance Act," which designates 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day each year as the National Moment of Remembrance, in honor of the men and women of the United States who have died in pursuit of peace and freedom. Additionally, the Act created a White House commission on the National Moment of Remembrance to coordinate and encourage Memorial Day events.
On Memorial Day the U.S. flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes. To display the flag at half-staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half-way between the top and bottom of the staff.
Volunteers place U.S. flags on each grave and along the pathways each Memorial Day at Wisconsin's Veterans Memorial Cemeteries.
Shown here: Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery – Union Grove, WI