Origins of Memorial Day

Local News

GIRARD, Pa. — Memorial Day brings people together to honor the members of the armed forces who gave their lives, but it originated during a time when the nation was trying to heal from division.

In Girard, veterans and families of all ages lined the streets. People from different backgrounds took part in the parade walking, dancing and creating music. It is these different forms of express that people say they have been afforded, because of the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives.

Lake City resident Russ Settelmaier said, “A lot of people did a lot of things. Ultimately, some of them laid down their lives for us just to be able to enjoy a day like today.”

Observances date back to 1866, a year after the Civil War ended, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. It was known as Decoration Day. It was not until more than a century later, 1971, that Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday. 

On Memorial Day, families reflect on the lives lost and the risks that servicemembers face daily.

“The reality of the dangers of serving our country are always in the forefront of my mind and my family’s mind,” said Jessy Orren of Girard.

Across the region people honored the many who have paid the ultimate price for the country.

“Well, this is the day that we remember the soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors that lost their lives protecting our country to keep us free and to make this country great,” said Raymond Oshop, who attended the Memorial Day parade in Findley Lake, N.Y.

Memorial Day initially honored those who fought and died in the Civil War, but it was expanded to include all wars following World War I.

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