Memorial Day has different meanings for people across the U.S. For some it represents the beginning of summer - cookouts, spending time with friends, and spending days outside. For others it is about parades and the opening of swimming season. But at its core, Memorial Day is really about remembering the sacrifices of the military veterans that have come before us. It is important to remember what the holiday is all about and how it came to be known as Memorial Day. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, so named because of the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags. The first official Decoration Day was in 1868, established by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. photo credit: mishegasofmotherhood.com On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate Soldiers buried there. It wasn’t until 1967 that federal law declared “Memorial Day” the official name. The tradition of decorating graves still continues today with various organizations laying wreaths and flags at each military grave site days before Memorial Day making sure that every grave is recognized. So as you fire up the grill and enjoy time with friends and family, remember to pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day for one minute and participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance” to remember those who gave all to their country and the families left behind.