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Remember Our Veterans This Memorial Day Weekend

Author: Colonel Chad T. Manske, USAF, 2011-2012 Military Fellow, U.S. Air Force
May 27, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations


This is a guest post by CFR military fellow, Colonel Chad T. Manske, U.S. Air Force, on the blog, "Politics, Power, and Preventive Action."

This weekend is a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices of our veterans, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the freedoms we hold so dear.

The first official observance of Memorial Day occurred in 1868, on the order of General John Alexander Logan, the leader of a veterans' group called the Grand Army of the Republic. Logan designated May 30 as a day for "strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country." On May 30 of that year, war orphans and veterans placed flowers on the graves of the more than 20,000 Civil War dead in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation that declared Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of Memorial Day. The U.S. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, and changed the date of observance from May 30 to the last Monday in May to give workers a three-day weekend.

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