Atlantic Cities

What Memorial Day Looks Like

What Memorial Day Looks Like

What does Memorial Day mean to us as Americans? The opening of the summer season?The beach? Finally, a three-day weekend? A barbecue with friends? A parade? A family gathering or block party? Deep discounts on shopping? All of the above?

Melrose, Massachusetts. Courtesy: Paul-W/Flickr

Or is Memorial Day about the remembrance of those who lost their lives in military service?

North Dakota. Courtesy: NDNG/Flickr

Rockaway Beach, New York. Courtesy: dandeluca/Flickr

Wilmington, Delaware. Courtesy: John M. Cropper/Flickr

San Fransisco, California. Courtesy: Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Washington, D.C. Courtesy: Ed Yourdon/Flickr

Unknown location. MC Lipsco/Flickr

River Falls, Wisconsin. Courtesy: Tfangle/Flickr

Ferndale, Michigan. Courtesy: Wigwam Jones/Flickr

La Jolla, California. Courtesy: Mapei/Flickr

Washington, D.C. Courtesy: Pak Gwei/Flickr

Seattle, Washington. Courtesy: James Callan/Flickr

Washington, D.C. Courtesy: Slack13/Flickr

Coney Island, New York. Courtesy: Asterix611/Flickr

American Cemetery, Brookwood, England Courtesy: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service ... While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

Kaid Benfield is special counsel for urban solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and author of several books on cities, smart growth and sprawl. All posts »

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