This Memorial Day, many observances and celebrations have had to move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One celebration that is holding a live webcast is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day Ceremony, which is typically held at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. But this year, it has moved online. It is being held Monday, May 25 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. A live stream will be embedded below when it becomes available.
VVMF is Asking People to Share Memories and Messages
On its website, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is asking veterans and loved ones to write personal messages, record video messages, and even take virtual tours of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
As for canceling the in-person memorial, the VVMF said in a statement back in March:
We wanted to make this call now – at least 60 days out – to give those who planned to travel to Washington, D.C., ample time to adjust their schedules and travel plans as needed. There WILL be a Memorial Day Ceremony, but it will be a live webcast — NOT in person at The Wall.
We did not make this decision lightly, and like all of you, we hope this national health crisis ends soon. But we did not want people to make travel plans to attend in person, only to arrive and find out social distancing requirements have canceled the event. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone.
We must take the necessary precautions to keep our attendees, volunteers, and staff safe at this time. We look forward to welcoming you all back to The Wall when we can safely gather in large numbers again. We appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.
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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