In Van Buren County, we mostly still call it Decoration Day, but elsewhere the final Monday is May is generally marked as Memorial Day.

Whatever the name, the day, which falls this year on May 27, is a federal holiday for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. It originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the 1861-65 war. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

Decoration Days in Van Buren County are generall held on a Saturday or Sunday in late spring or early summer, and in the past, the day often took on the feel of a family reunion. Some Decorations still feature a potluck meal at the cemetery, a sermon, singing and visiting.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Traditional observances of Decoration Day — or Memorial Day — have diminished over the years.