Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer season in New Hampshire as lake residents open their summer homes and tourists take advantage of a long weekend to travel our back roads and hike our mountains. But, of course, Memorial Day isn’t about tourism. It’s about remembering those who have died in our nation’s service. Holderness residents and friends will gather on Monday on the library grounds to do just that.
The idea for a special memorial day began in 1868 when Gen. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, designated May 30th as a day for veterans groups to decorate the graves of fallen comrades. The day was originally called Decoration Day, but over the years evolved to Memorial Day.
New Hampshire first recognized Decoration Day in 1881 when thousands of families were still mourning the loss of loved ones in the Civil War. New Hampshire had sent 33,000 soldiers to fight in the Civil War, about 10% of its population. About 4,300 died in the war and 1,600 went missing in action, a staggering toll by any calculation.
In 1968 Congress voted to move the holiday from the 30th to the last Monday of May creating a three day holiday weekend. While we welcome visitors to the Inn On Golden Pond and the Squam Lakes area we also pause to reflect on the sacrifice made by so many over the years ensuring we all would have the freedom to choose when and where we want to travel.