The tradition began on May 30th, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in the cemetery. Back then it was called Decoration Day. After the end of WWII, soldiers and communities of many American towns placed small flags by every headstone in the cemetery to honor those who served in America’s wars. Putting aside disputes and arguments about its origins, in 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. In Waterloo, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored veterans who had fought in the Civil War. The federal government adopted the Memorial Day name in 1967 and a year later Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. It established Memorial Day as a national holiday observed in the United States on the last Monday of MayIn the nation’s capital, the observance takes place at Arlington National Cemetery. Before the pandemic, more than 4 million people visited the cemetery every year. However, the best-known memorial in the nation’s capital, is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which opened in 1982. Two years earlier, a group of former soldiers announced a competition to design a memorial. The winner was a 21-year-old student at Yale University. The design is formed by two walls of black stone about 76 meters long that meet to form the letter V. The names of more than 58,000 Americans killed or declared missing-in-action are cut into the stone.After the success of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Congress approved a memorial to the Korean War veterans, which opened in July of 1995. On the National Mall, the World War II Memorial is dedicated to those who answered the call of their country when U.S. entered the war on December 7th, 1941. Sixteen million men and women served in the American military between 1941 and 1945. More than 400,000 died. The fifty-six stone pillars that rise around the Memorial pool represent each of the American states and territories at the time of the war. There are no memorials yet for soldiers who died in America’s most recent wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of today’s observance, the Albanian-American communities across the country take part in parades and local memorial services in honor of its lost members and those who survived. It is a great way to remember history and pay homage to the “honor roll” among us. Sadly, a few of them departed during the lock-down time of the pandemic. Indeed, Dielli paid tribute to the passing of one such exceptional figure like William Johns (Vasil Kamenica in 2020. His name and picture next to those of his fellow countrymen are on display at St. Mary’s Albanian Orthodox Church in Worcester, MA, shown in the photo below.On Memorial Day, Americans will stop for one minute at three o’clock local time for the National Moment of Remembrance to honor the soldiers who have died in service to the country, no matter what wars they served in.