Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was established by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) on May 5, 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, to honor veterans who fought and died in the Civil War. However, General John A. Logan declared that they should move Memorial Day to May 30th because flowers would be in bloom all across the country. General John A. Logan also chose May 30th to be the date of Memorial Day because it did not fall on the anniversary of any specific battles.
During the first Memorial Day ceremony, General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 people decorated the graves of 20,000 Civil War soldiers with flowers, wreaths, and flags.
In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson named Waterloo, New York, the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. A few years later, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by Congress and declared to be celebrated on the last Monday in May. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being celebrated throughout the nation. However, it was not until after World War I that Memorial Day was changed to honor those who have died in all American wars.
Florida National Cemetery ( 6502 SW 102nd Ave in Bushnell) will hold a Memorial Day ceremony on May 29, starting at 11 am. The keynote speaker is Lt. Gen. (Ret) Carl E. Mundy. He served as the Commanding General of the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the Commander of Task Force 51 located in Bahrain. He was deployed to Iraq twice, first as a battalion commander and later as a Marine Expeditionary Unit commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has been honored with the Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit with a “V” device; Bronze Star; and the Combat Action Ribbon.
It is advised to arrive at least one hour early due to high traffic. Bring a chair to sit on and sunblock. You will be guided to the parking area from the entrance of the cemetery. More information: cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/florida.asp