People around the city, state and country are making preparations to fire up their grills and enjoy a day off work filled with good food, fun and fellowship in celebration of Memorial Day.

People around the city, state and country are making preparations to fire up their grills and enjoy a day off work filled with good food, fun and fellowship in celebration of Memorial Day.

Although many choose to hold picnics and family gatherings, Memorial Day is a day that has been set aside to commemorate all the men and women who have died in military service for the United States.

Organizations around Jefferson County have scheduled memorial services this weekend. The Hearin-Connolly Post 32 of the American Legion will conduct a Memorial Day service in the Veterans Section of Graceland Cemetery at 2 p.m. today. At 10 a.m. Monday the White Hall Museum will host a Memorial Day service at the Veterans Monument.

While some will participate in memorial services, others may take a few moments to visit the many monuments and memorials throughout Southeast Arkansas that have been erected to honor those who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today.

History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action.

The current name for Memorial Day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May.