Republican and Democratic senators don’t get along often, fighting over complex policy topics, angling for the support of the American people and taking shots at one another in the newspapers and on television.
Things are different on Memorial Day, a 24-hour period America has dedicated to honoring the men and women who have died in service to the nation. Senators forgot about partisan bickering Monday, offering up their heartfelt thanks for the American military and those who gave their lives fighting for the U.S.
Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day.” The celebration began three years after the end of the Civil War and was intended to commemorate the sacrifices of those soldiers.
Former Union General and representative of Ohio, James Garfield, gave a speech at the first Decoration Day ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868.
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue,” Garfield said. “For the love of country they accepted death; and in that act they resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
Starting in 1873 with the state of New York, Memorial Day became a legal holiday declared by the states. Toward the end of the 1800s, many states and local municipalities had declared Memorial Day a legal holiday and celebrated it accordingly.
Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971, officially marking the celebration of Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.
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