‘Turning to Almighty God’: 5 profound Memorial Day proclamations

Graves are decorated with flags for at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 26, 2008. | Wikimedia Commons/Remember

Memorial Day is an annual federal observance that honors those in the U.S. military who have passed away and a day for Americans to spend time praying for "permanent peace."

The holiday was observed in the 19th century under the name “Decoration Day," which sought to honor the memory of soldiers who died in the American Civil War.

Later on, the observance was broadened to include Americans killed in all armed conflicts, with parades, barbeques and other festivities being connected to the holiday.

As part of the observance, presidents of the United States have issued proclamations calling upon Americans to not only remember the fallen but also pray for lasting peace. Many presidents over the years have set aside a specific time in the day for Americans to pray for peace. 

President Joe Biden continued the tradition, issuing a proclamation urging Americans on Monday to "designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. ... as a time when people might unite in prayer and reflection."

The following pages highlight five notable presidential Memorial Day proclamations calling for national prayer signed by presidents of both major political parties.

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