Loyalty Day – May 1


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Loyalty Day is an opportunity to express and reaffirm our loyalty to our country.

On Loyalty Day, we reaffirm our allegiance to our country and resolve to uphold the vision of our Forefathers. We should also take a moment to appreciate the members of our armed forces who are displaying the ultimate in loyalty and service to protect our freedoms, and liberty, and our way of life.

Loyalty Day was first celebrated in the 1920's. Communism was on the rise, and feared in America. At the time, May Day (May 1st) was perceived by some as a Communist holiday. In a sense, Loyalty Day was intended to counter this. The U.S. Congress made this an official holiday on July 18, 1958 with the signing of Public Law 85-529. Then President Dwight D. Eisenhower, proclaimed May 1, 1959 the first official observance of Loyalty Day.



Memorial Day – May 30


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Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memo-rial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “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. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.



Flag Day – June 14


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The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. B.J. Cigrand, a school teacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birth-day', or 'Flag Day'.

On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.

Following the suggestion of Colonel J. Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.

Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then the Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.

In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be dis-played on all public buildings. With B.J. Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14th, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lin-coln, and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating. Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.



Independence Day – July 4


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Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire. They asserted that all are "created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

With these words, our forefathers formed a new nation and put forth a vision of liberty and democracy that would forever alter history. Every Fourth of July, Americans celebrate this pivotal moment in our history, which set into motion the development of a land of freedom and opportunity unequalled in the world. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.



Patriot Day – September 11


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Those whom we lost September 11, 2001, will forever hold a cherished place in our hearts and in the history of our nation. By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001, (Public Law 107-89), Congress authorized the President to designate September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day" to perpetuate the memory of those who perished in the attack on America and to pursue peace and justice in the world and security at home. Appropriate ceremonies and activities include a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. EDT, remembrance services and candlelight vigils. Flags should be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day.



POW / MIA Day – Third Friday in September


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National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September. It honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action.

This day was established by an Act of Congress, by the passage of Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act. It is one of six days that the POW/MIA Flag can be flown.

The POW/MIA flag should fly below, and not be larger than the United States flag. It is generally flown immediately below or adjacent to the U.S. flag as second in order of precedence.

The POW/MIA flag was first recognized by Public Law 101-355 in 1990.



Veterans Day – November 11


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Though the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, November 11 remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the Great War. In November 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business activities at 11 a.m. On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Congress had declared the day a legal federal holiday in honor of all those who participated in the war.

On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of November 11, 1918 should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations” and that the president should issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of Armistice Day. By that time, 27 state legislatures had made November 11 a legal holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938 made November 11 a legal Federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” In actuality, there are no U.S. national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own, and the government can only designate holidays for federal employees and for the District of Columbia.

American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The next development in the story of Veterans Day unfolded in 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which sought to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees–and encourage tourism and travel – by celebrating four national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day) on Mondays.
The observation of Veterans Day was set as the fourth Monday in October. The first Veterans Day under the new law was Monday, October 25, 1971; confusion ensued, as many states disapproved of this change, and continued to observe the holiday on its original date. In 1975, after it became evident that the actual date of Veterans Day carried historical and patriotic significance to many Americans, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to November 11th beginning in 1978. If November 11 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on the previous Friday or following Monday.

In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day–a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American ser-vice members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.



Pearl Harbor Day – December 7


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National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is annually on December 7, commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, during World War II. Many American service men and women lost their lives or were injured on December 7, 1941. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day.

Some communities hold special memorial services on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

On the direction of the President, the flag of the United States of America should be displayed on the homes of Americans, the White House and all United States government buildings. The flag should be flown at half-mast to honor those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Many associations, especially those linked with Pearl Harbor survivors or those who died from the attack, participate in special services to commemorate the event. Memorial services are held at venues such as the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Other activities include: wreath-laying ceremonies; keynote speeches by those associated with the event; luncheons; media stories on survivors’ recollections of the Pearl Harbor attack; and school activities to educate students about the attack on Pearl Harbor in relation to World War II history.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is not a federal holiday. Government offices, schools, businesses and other organizations do not close. Public transit systems run on their regular schedules. Some organizations may hold special events in memory of those killed or injured in Pearl Harbor. On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the American Army and Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The attack came as a surprise to the American Army and Navy and lead to great losses of life and equipment. More than 2000 American citizens were killed and more than 1000 were injured. The Americans also lost a large proportion of their battle ships and nearly 200 aircraft that were stationed in the Pacific region. More than 60 Japanese servicemen were killed, injured or captured. The Japanese Navy also lost five midget submarines and 29 aircraft.

The Japanese military had hoped that the attack on Pearl Harbor would prevent the United States of America from increasing her influence in the Pacific. However, the events in Pearl Harbor actually led to the escalation of World War II. The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and so entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt in a speech to Congress stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy”. Shortly afterwards, Germany also declared war on the United States. In the months that followed the attack, the slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor” swept the United States and radio stations repeatedly played a song of the same name.

In 1991, which marked the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Congress established the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal. This is also known as the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Medal and can be awarded to any veteran of the United States military who were present in or around Pearl Harbor during the attack by the Japanese military. The medal can be awarded to civilians, who were killed or injured in the attack.

Memorials have been built to remember or to symbolize the day. For example, the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is a marble memorial built over the sunk-en USS Arizona, which was dedicated in 1962. The memorial remembers all military personnel who were killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. The memorial was designed by architect Alfred Preis, an Austrian-born resident who lived in Honolulu and was placed at a detainment camp after the Pearl Harbor attack as part of the internment policy of Japanese and German Americans at the time.