Iconic photo of V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt
The last Monday in May has, since 1971, marked the celebration of Memorial Day in the United States. In the past, we’ve told you some of the best ways to spend the holiday, but today we take a look at some photos of Memorial Day through the years in New York.
Canyon of Heroes parade on Broadway Avenue celebrating the end of World War II via DowntownNY
President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the upstate New York town of Waterloo to be the birthplace of the holiday, originally known as Decoration Day to commemorate soldiers lost in the Civil War.
Decoration Day, 1875 at Broadway and Bond Street, photo via Ephemeral New York
Southern states refused to celebrate the holiday until after World War I and not until after World War II was Memorial Day widely celebrated and known by its current name.
The Maine Monument on its unveiling, May 30th, 1913, photo via The Bowery Boys
The holiday was traditionally celebrated on May 30th until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act on June 28th, 1968, which moved Memorial Day and three other holidays to Mondays. Some groups, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War advocate a return to its original date, claiming that the three day weekend has diminished the meaning of the day.
Awaiting the news of D-Day, June 6th 1944, photo by either Howard Hollem or Edward Meyer, photo via Odysseum
In cities across the country, solemn and respectful services are held at memorial sites while parades line the streets. The oldest running Memorial Day Parade is held every year in Kings County, Brooklyn.
Memorial Day Parade at Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, 1895, photo via Brooklyn History
Today, there are hundreds of ways to spend Memorial Day in NYC, from simple barbecues in the backyard to outdoor concerts and parades. And while it is a day to celebrate, we should never forget to give thanks to those whose lives we honor on this day.
Children in Harlem celebrate the return of the famous 369th Regiment following World War I, photo via National Archives
A volunteer taking soldiers’ hats during a party in the 1940’s, photo via Business Insider
Marlene Dietrich celebrating with sailors aboard the USS Monticello, July 20th, 1945, photo via Greatest Generation
The author can be reached via twitter @jimipage26