Memorial Day 2012
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events
To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
In 2012, Chargé d'Affaires Karen E. Johnson, U.S. Mission to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies, and the Deputy Minister of Defense Gianluigi Magri will be the guest speakers at the traditional Memorial Day ceremony, which will be held in Nettuno at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, on Monday, May 28.
A Memorial Day ceremony has been held at the Sicily-Rome Cemetery every year since General Mark Clark presided over the the first ceremony in 1944. The Memorial Day Ceremony honors the 7,861 American military servicemen and women buried in the cemetery and the 3,095 service personnel missing in action or buried at sea, whose names are memorialized on the chapel walls. These honored dead gave their lives during the 1943-45 campaigns in Sicily, the landings at Salerno, the landings and heavy fighting at Anzio and Nettuno, and the advance to and liberation of Rome. They are buried here, on foreign soil, at the request of their next of kin. The cemetery is located in the area of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division’s northern advance during the Italian Campaign. After WWII, the Sicily-Rome Cemetery became a permanent memorial and was completed in 1956.
The ceremony will include the participation of both an American and Italian military band, as well as a combined, joint military formation. Members of the general public and press are cordially invited to attend.