On the Porch

Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May, honors men and women who died while serving in the United States military. The holiday was originally known as Decoration Day, and it originated in the years following the Civil War. By the late 1860s, many communities had begun springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers of the war by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. According to the History Channel, on May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

Memorial Day originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. During World War I, the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict. Memorial Day evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. 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 in order 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.

The photograph featured this week from the Lyon County Museum’s collection is a framed photograph of Ervis Sterler. Ervis lived in Marshall and served in World War II. Ervis was killed in action on Nov. 8, 1942.

The Lyon County Museum is closed on Monday, May 27. The Lyon County Historical Society (LCHS) is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. LCHS operates the Lyon County Museum at 301 West Lyon Street in Marshall. The Lyon County Museum is open year-round to visitors. To contact us, visit our website: www.lyoncomuseum.org, call: 507-537-6580, email: director@lyoncomuseum.org, or on our Facebook page.


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