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Celebrations of those killed in combat were a regular occurrence in the years following the United States Civil War. During visits to gravesites and the earliest national military cemeteries, decorations like flowers and flags would be placed on the tombstones. This holiday came to be known as “Decoration Day,” a title that persisted until some decades after the end of the Civil War, when “Memorial Day” became the style. The federal government officially renamed it Memorial Day in 1967.
On Memorial Day, we honor the fallen members of our Armed Forces and pray for their peaceful rest. But we also pray for peace, for an end to war, for a day when we will no longer mourn our war dead because there will be no more war. We pray for our leaders to recognize our shared humanity, for peace among all peoples and nations, and for peaceful resolutions to the current conflicts in the world. We also honor the commitment and courage of our soldiers, pray for their safe and speedy return home, and emphasize the importance of addressing their physical and mental health needs once they are home.
May we never forget the sacrifice that our soldiers and their families (of all faiths and none) make every day to serve our country.