The American holiday known as Memorial Day takes place each year on the last Monday of May. Originally called “Decoration Day” when the holiday began back on May 30, 1868, this day was originally meant to - literally- be a day of “decorating” the graves of comrades who had fallen in the Civil War.
The man who founded this day of remembering, General John A. Logan, called for a nationwide day of remembrance saying the day is “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants decorated 20,000 graves of fallen Civil War soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. In fact, Arlington National Cemetery, the first of its kind, had been created due to the enormous loss of life in this war.
With the advent of World War I, however, Decoration Day gradually changed to Memorial Day as a way to remember not just those who had fallen in the Civil War but also the soldiers who had died in WWI, and then WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and later the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1968, the name of the day was formally changed to Memorial Day and it was moved to the day it is now, the last Monday of May.
Don’t let this Memorial Day pass you by without giving it, and those who we remember this day, their proper due. Pray for the repose of all the souls who died in these wars and then also pray for an end to war itself, that God's kingdom may be lived one earth as it is in heaven.
Pray for the repose of all those who died in wars with this Catholic prayer:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let Your perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls, the souls of all who died in wars, and the souls of all the faithful departed
rest in peace. Amen.
Pray for an end to war in general with the prayer Jesus himself taught us, especially focusing on the line in italics:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our respasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And let us not be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Finally, pray for all those who are on active duty around the world, that they may come home safe.