The tradition started after the American Civil War of putting flowers and flags on the graves of the war dead. So the story goes, the graves of both Union and Confederate dead were “decorated” and this common gesture of remembrance helped heal the wounds of the most catastrophic war in American History. Sometime in the 1950’s Decoration Day became Memorial Day. And in the 1970’s the day celebrated moved from 30 May to the last Monday of May. We remember the dead from all our wars on this day.
At least we say we do. Mostly, we start “Summer” on this day. This weekend is when the public outdoor swimming pools open in the parts of the country where year round outdoor swimming is not possible, We start eating outdoors with backyard barbecues. All in all, the tempo changes to summer mode.
Virginia and particularly Richmond, where I live, has many sites of Civil War battles and, consequently, cemeteries for the war dead. Arlington National Cemetery is on the site of the Custis-Lee Mansion, seized by the Federal Government for just such a purpose.
In the Culture Of Fun which is America in the 21st Century, remembrance takes a backseat to Fun.