Remembering the fallen & the meaning of Memorial Day

Click on the link for a look at how San Antonio marked Memorial Day at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery today.

And for the true meaning of Memorial Day and how it differs from Veterans Day.

If you don't know, Memorial Day is now a federal holiday to honor the memory of all those who have died in service to their country.

There are various stories about exactly where it originated and how, but in the years after the Civil War, what was called 'Decoration Day' was marked across the country as a day to decorate the graves of the fallen with flags and flowers.

Congress finally declared it a federal holiday in 1971, when it was also moved to the last Monday in May from May 30th.

As for Veterans Day, it began as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of hostilities in World War One - on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

At the beginning, Armistice Day it was mainly to honor the veterans of World War I, and was made a legal holiday by congress in 1938.

But after World War II and the Korean War, the name was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

The same act of congress passed in 1968 which moved Memorial Day, Washington's Birthday, and Columbus Day to Mondays - also moved Veterans Day to a Monday.

But that move didn't stick.

In 1975 the official Veterans Day was moved back to November 11th.

Confused yet?

How about Armed Forces Day?

That's a day to honor all of those who serve - and have served - in the military and it came after a push to consolidate the United States military and defense forces after World War II.

In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days.

Because it's the third Saturday in May, it is not a national holiday in the sense of everyone getting a day off, but in many communities (like San Antonio) there are parades and ceremonies to mark the day.

San Antonio began an annual Armed Forces River Parade in 2012.

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