The Memorial Day holiday once was known as Decoration Day, when citizens, towns and patriotic groups would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.
Many towns claim to have started the tradition, although the first official Memorial Day was declared on May 30, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. Over the next two decades, the Northern states all came to recognize Memorial Day as an official holiday.
The Southern states, meanwhile, had separate days of recognition until after World War I, when the remembrance included more than just Civil War soldiers. It became a national holiday in 1971.
Today, Memorial Day is celebrated with cookouts, boat rides and pool parties, but Fort Jackson keeps alive the tradition of honoring our fallen heroes. Fort Jackson and the Fort Jackson National Cemetery will hold a joint Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony at 9 a.m. Monday at the cemetery, at 4170 Percival Road in Columbia.
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Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker will be the guest speaker. The ceremony also will include the wreath laying service and patriotic music played and sung by the 282nd Army Band, said Kara Motosicky, a Fort Jackson spokeswoman.
The ceremony is free and open to the public. Attendees should be prepared for a short walk from the parking area to the ceremony, Motosicky said.
South Carolina’s other two national cemeteries will also hold Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremonies.
The Florence National Cemetery’s program begins at 10 a.m., and the Beaufort National Cemetery’s program begins at 11 a.m.
Bridget Winston, Special to The State