On Memorial Day 2020, many celebrations and parades have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the American Veterans Center is forging ahead with the National Memorial Day Parade: America Stands Tall, an original television special featuring celebrity engagements and narrative pieces, along with memorable moments from past parades, including historical reenactors, musical performances and more.
The special is airing on the American Forces Network and on select ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliate stations nationwide. Check here for your local broadcast information. A video of last year’s parade is below.
The National Memorial Day Parade: America Stands Tall Lineup
Hosted by Tamron Hall and Anthony Anderson, this event will feature appearances by Matthew McConaughey, Howie Mandell, Kristin Chenoweth, Gary Sinise, and more.
The AVC says in a press release:
The National Memorial Day Parade, held annually along Constitution Avenue in our nation’s capital – Washington, DC – shares the story of American honor and sacrifice from across the generations. The parade, commemorating its fifteenth year, is our nation’s largest Memorial Day event, drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators to the National Mall to pay tribute to those who have served, are serving, and most importantly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while in service to our country.
The National Memorial Day Parade is a moving timeline of American military history, honoring those who have served and sacrificed from the American Revolution to the present day. It draws on the tradition of Memorial Day parades, going back to the beginning of the holiday just after the Civil War, to create a family-friendly event aimed at calling attention to the true meaning of Memorial Day – honoring our fallen heroes.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 National Memorial Day Parade has unfortunately been canceled. However, the spirit of the parade will live on in a very special original television program: The National Memorial Day Parade: America Stands Tall.
The History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day as we know it dates back to 1868 when it was called “Decoration Day” in a proclamation by General John A. Logan of Illinois, according to “Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians” by Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour. An organization of Union army veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) quickly established Decoration Day as a “time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers,” according to the Constitution Center.
Prior to that, several states had their own versions of a day to honor those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, but the 1868 proclamation is really what got the ball rolling in turning Memorial Day into a national holiday. By 1890, every state had made “Decoration Day” an official state holiday and the cemetery ceremonies were becoming more consistent from state to state.
The GAR said that Decoration Day should always be observed on May 30 because that would be when flowers were blooming across most of the country. Over the years, the use of “Memorial Day” became more and more common until finally, the federal government adopted “Memorial Day” as the official title in 1967. The Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 is what moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May and that is how Memorial Day has been observed since.
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