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Memorial Day pays tribute to those who died defending the country

May 23, 2024
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Memorial Day, a time to honor the men and women who gave their lives in service to the country, will be observed on Monday, May 27.

The first national commemoration was held in 1868, after Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union soldiers and sailors, called for May 30 to be set aside “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating” the gravesites of those who died defending the country in the Civil War. This is why the holiday is sometimes referred to as Decoration Day.

One hundred years later, Congress changed the date from May 30 to the last Monday in May as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

The Postal Service has long paid tribute to military service and sacrifice through its stamp program. One example is Honoring Extraordinary Heroism: The Service Cross Medals, a set of stamps released on Memorial Day 2016.

The four stamps — the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross and the Coast Guard Cross — honor those who died or were grievously wounded as a result of acts of valor.

Fearing that the holiday was becoming more associated with barbecues and shopping than honoring the fallen, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000.

The act calls for Americans to pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember the fallen.

About 10 percent of USPS employees have served in the military.

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