Memorial Day: a day of remembrance and honor

Memorial Day is so much more than a three-day weekend for family and friends get-togethers or picnics. Although that is how most Americans view the holiday, the day has a long and interesting history that started in mid-1800s when people wanted to honor their fallen soldiers after the close of the American Civil War. 

In 1864, a group of women in Pennsylvania began visiting the graves of the deceased soldiers, placing flowers on them in memory of their service. In 1866, after word spread about visiting and decorating the graves, women in Mississippi began doing the same thing. This is how the day became known first as "Decoration Day."

It didn't originally begin as a nationwide celebration. Waterloo, NY, is the first place that officially celebrated the holiday, and it spread from there. Other towns and cities have claimed to be the first, but it is Waterloo that holds the title. On May 5, 1868, General John Logan made the day official. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at the Arligton National Cemetery.

After World War II, it became a day to honor all deceased veterans of any war or service instead of just those who had died in the Civil War. It never became a national holiday, as some think it is. Rather, it became a Federal holiday to allow Civil War veterans the opportunity to help decorate graves at cemeteries without losing any pay.

In Honolulu the ceremonies this year include:

·May 26 - Vietnam Veteran's Candlelight Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl at 5pm.

·May 26 - Memorial Day Observance at the grounds in front of the War Memorial Natatorium at 5pm.

·May 27 - Mayor's Memorial Day Ceremonyat the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl at 8:30 am.  

·May 27 - Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremonyat Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery at 9 am.

·May 27 - Governor's Memorial Day Ceremony at Hawai'i State Veterans Cemetery at 1 pm.

·May 27 - 13th Annual Lantern Floating Hawai'i Ceremonyat Ala Moana Beach Park at 6:30 p.m.