Two weeks ago, my husband and I took our son, Cooper, down to Washington DC. We were visiting family and friends and spent a day walking the mall and seeing as many of our national monuments as our five year old could handle. As we approached the memorials and statues, Cooper would grow quiet and ask very pointed questions, he wanted to understand the meaning and history engraved on the walls.
Outside of the Lincoln Memorial, I explained the Civil War and the reasons why our country fractured and countrymen fought countrymen. I did not discuss the amount of suffering that took place, but explained that both sides lost people whom they loved and many soldiers came home with serious injuries. The room with the Gettysburg Address was just as crowded as the room with the giant statue of Lincoln. I was eight years old when I saw the Lincoln Memorial for the first time, and it still takes my breath away. I could tell it had the same impact on my family as well, especially Cooper.
In 1882, the name of the holiday was changed to Memorial Day and the day was made to be a remembrance to all soldiers who had died fighting for this country. Later, in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday and would always take place on the last Monday in the month of May.