Memorial Day ceremonies are being held in many Iowa towns today (Monday) to mark the holiday which got its roots in the Civil War era. The holiday has somehow evolved into a kick-off of the summer vacation season with barbeques camping and boat rides, but Memorial Day — or Decoration Day as it used to be called — was originally set aside to honor the nation’s war dead. On May 30th, 1868, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, ordered flowers to be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried at Arlington National Cemetary. Most of the union states involved in the “War Between the States” quickly started to observe the holiday. It wasn’t until after World War II that southern states which had been part of the Confederacy started to observe Memorial Day on May 30th because by then the day honored soldiers who had served in other wars. In 1971, Congress passed a law that said Memorial Day would be observed on the last Monday of May. This year Monday falls on May 30th, the traditional date for Memorial Day. President Bush has issued an executive order asking Americans to pause at three o’clock this (Monday) afternoon to remember and pay respect to those who died while serving the country.
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