Editorial: To honor, thank, and remember on Memorial Day

Shelton manages to get its celebration of the Memorial Day holiday just right. Not only is the long weekend a time when the community comes together to kick off the summer season, but it’s also filled with a balance of solemnity and fun.

The national holiday commemorating the nation’s fallen military members falls on Monday, May 26, this year. On that day, Shelton City Hall, all schools, the libraries and the post offices downtown and in Huntington Center will be closed.

Distinct purpose from Veterans Day

Memorial Day has a distinct purpose different from Veterans Day, the November holiday that honors all those who have served in the U.S. military — both living and dead.

Memorial Day originally was called Decoration Day, and always has been a day of observance to remember and honor those who died while in the armed services.

It began in the late 1860s as observances were held to remember those killed during the Civil War. Residents of Waterloo, N.Y., and women’s groups in the South played prominent roles in starting what would later become an official national holiday.

First proclaimed in 1868

The first official Memorial Day was proclaimed in 1868 by Gen. John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 30 of that year, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

In the coming decades, individual northern states began recognizing Memorial Day as a state holiday. Southern states were more reluctant to do so until after World War I, when the holiday’s purpose was altered to begin recognizing those killed in all wars, not just the Civil War.

Date was changed in 1971

In 1971, a federal law moved the observance of Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May, part of legislation designed to create three-day weekends.

To help remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution in 2000, asking that at 3 p.m. local time all citizens “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect.”

Honor the fallen, and celebrating freedom

The city of Shelton marks the holiday in many ways, designed both to honor those who died in service to their country and to celebrate the freedoms Americans enjoy.

Events include a Sunday night memorial service, an early Monday morning veterans post’s memorial tribute, and the Monday morning parade. Most events are held in conjunction with the neighboring city of Derby.

All Shelton residents are encouraged to honor, thank, and remember those who died in service to this great country.