Fayetteville National Cemetery Memorial Day Program

Jill M. Rohrbach

The FayettevilleNational Cemetery will hold a Memorial Day program to remember and honor all military members who have served or are currently serving our nation at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 30. The keynote speaker is Dr. Jerry R. Kelley, Rear Admiral, USN.
The cemetery is located at 700 Government Avenue. Established in 1867, the first burials were the remains disinterred from local Civil War battlefields such as Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove and Elk Horn Tavern. Interments were originally made with the headstone and inscription facing the flagpole. An inspection report dated May 1871 states there were 1,210 interments in the cemetery, “the greater portion being unknown white soldiers.” When the new sections were added in the mid-20th century cemetery, the placement of headstones was altered so that the inscriptions face the interred remains. The Fayetteville National Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Civil War Discovery Trail.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day”, which was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington’s Birthday, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.

Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time.

For more information on the Fayetteville National Cemetery Memorial Day program call 479-444-5051.
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