ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WETM) — When people think of Memorial Day, many things pop into their heads, the unofficial start of summer, or almost time for school to be out.

Many of the ideas that come to mind are happy, pleasant, and enjoyable. However, for many who know the meaning and the purpose of Memorial Day, it is more serious than happy.

The holiday known as Memorial Day in the United States is a holiday to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day is frequently confused with Veterans Day and July 4th as to who it is set to remember.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the ones who are no longer with us, it is not a day to recognize veterans or current members of the military for their service.

While every day we should be grateful to the men and women who have and continue to defend our freedoms. This year Memorial Day occurs on Monday, May 30th.

Memorial Day in the United States is a federal holiday which is for the purpose of mourning the U.S. military personnel that have paid the ultimate price while serving in the United States armed forces, so we can have all the things that were mentioned above. It is observed on the last Monday of May each year.

The holiday was originally known as decoration day and originated following the Civil War, and eventually became a federal holiday in 1971. It was called decoration day due to the tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, flags, and reciting prayers.

Many Americans observe Memorial Day by remembering the fallen by visiting cemeteries, holding memorial services, including parades, or having family gatherings. Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war — a tradition that began with a World War I poem.

Where did it start?

It is unclear where exactly this tradition began; many different communities may have independently held memorial gatherings. According to History.com, some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. The Department of Veteran Affairs also reveals other cities that claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Macon, Columbus, Georgia, Richmond, Virginia, and Boalsburg, PA. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say that earlier observances, were either informal, not community-wide, or one-time events.

Waterloo, which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866, was chosen by Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 as the birthplace of Memorial Day because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.

The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Memorial Day Parades in Rochester this year

Fairport:

  • Potter Park at 10 a.m. (53 W Church Street)
    • Reading of names of local veterans that passed away from May 2021 through May 2022.
    • Unique tribute to honor “Harmonica” Pete DuPre.

Penfield:

  • Penfield Amphitheater in Veterans Memorial Park at 10:30 a.m. (3100 Atlantic Avenue)
    • This annual event will honor fallen veterans and includes remarks by guest speaker Dan Murphy.
    • The ceremony will also feature the reading of essays by middle school students and Penfield`s traditional Presentation of Roses.

Greece:

  • Long Pond Road from Janes Road to the Greece Town Hall Campus at 11 a.m.
    • Town of Greece Ceremony, held at the Greece Town Hall Pavilion at 11:45 a.m.
    • Parking will be available at Greece Town Hall. Town Hall Campus Parking will be open until approximately 10:45 a.m.
    • The section of Long Pond Road running from Latta Road to Janes Road and a portion of Janes Road will be closed from approximately 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Vietnam Veterans:

  • Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park at 1 p.m. (1440 South Avenue)
    • The ceremony will honor all men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Held by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 20.

Brighton:

  • Veterans Memorial at Buckland Park at 2 p.m. (1341 Westfall Road)

The videos in this story were produced by the United States Air Force Band in honor of the nation’s fallen heroes this Memorial Day. The first video featured Technical Sgt. Jason Covey, as he performed “Taps” at Culpeper National Cemetery in Culpeper, Virginia. The second video featured the Ceremonial Brass performing “Goin’ Home” with narration by General Charles Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

The U.S. Air Force Band honors those who have served and inspired American citizens by heightening patriotism and service on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.