Memorial Day origins and how Florida is honoring fallen soldiers
Expect flags to be flown at half-staff on Monday. Image via AP.

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Many Florida Memorial Day observances take place outside.

Expect flags at Florida’s government buildings to be at half-staff on Memorial Day, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Monday will mark the 153rd observance of Memorial Day.

When Memorial Day became a nationally recognized holiday, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, in 1868 three years after the Civil War ended, declared that Decoration Day, as Memorial Day was first known, should be observed on May 30. That date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Where the tradition started before it became a national event is unclear. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs recognizes that approximately 25 places claim to have originated the holiday, usually through springtime tributes to Civil War soldiers. In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day.

While the day for many years was intended to honor fallen Civil War soldiers, after World War I the day was expanded to honor all veterans who died in all American wars.

The date was moved to the last Monday in May in 1971.

DeSantis’ direction requires flags at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise until noon on May 31.

“On Memorial Day, we honor the heroes of the United States Military who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We shall never forget the selfless bravery of the men and women who laid down their lives to protect their fellow citizens. Our hearts are heavy with gratitude for their unwavering commitment to protecting this nation’s highest ideal of freedom in the face of grave danger,” DeSantis said in a written statement.

Communities across Florida honor fallen veterans with local parades and remembrance ceremonies. Miami Beach will hold the Miami Beach Air & Sea Show. Jacksonville hosts a Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Wall. Fort Lauderdale hosts the Great American Beach Party with beach games and a tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. Downtown St. Pete will host the Florida Orchestra for a program called Let Freedom Ring: An American Salute. Tampa will hold the Sunset Music Festival and Tampa Bay Margarita Festival.

There are 1.5 million veterans living in Florida.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


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