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madison.jpegIt will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.

Attributed to James Madison (1751–1836): The Federalist, ed. Benjamin F. Wright, no. 62, pp. 411–12 (1961).

Memorial Day

then-and-now Comments Off
May 262008

poppies.jpegCurrent federal law designates Memorial Day as the last Monday in May — in 2008 that’s today, May 26th. It was officially proclaimed as Decoration Day on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states, but the South did not observe Decoration Day, preferring to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I. In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day and soldiers who had died in other wars were also honored.

140 years later, Memorial Day is still celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave and a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But today, there other, less historic, ways to pay your respects; there are picnics, parades and fireworks — or you can skin your phone with an American flag.