This year marks the eighth annual III Corps and Fort Hood Remembrance Display, which honors men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Visitors may view the display, which is set up in front of the impressive III Corps building. The event is free and open to all.
The annual display, which originally began in 2014, honors the fallen with a combat boot containing an American flag. Each boot identifies a fallen service member with a badge displaying a picture and the name of the service member. Throughout the years, friends and family members have written messages and left mementos on the boots.
Dozens of volunteers and soldiers help set up the display annually. All the boots are arranged by the year the service members died.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Washington, D.C., the first recognition day came 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 — 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 it should be officially recognized May 30. It is believed the date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country at that time. Now, this holiday takes place annually on the last Monday in May and is a dedicated day for honoring U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States armed forces.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The ceremonies were centered around mourning. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon B. 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. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. The day was also expanded to honor all those who have died in American wars.
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.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.