Decorations for Memorial Day

Americans celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, May 30th, and that makes this year’s holiday something of a throwback to The Good Ol’ Days. Because while most citizens have lived with Memorial Day always falling on the final Monday of May, ’twas not always thus. For many years, Memorial Day was fixed to a specific calendar date — May 30th — until passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that permanently changed Memorial Day (along with President’s Day — then known as “Washington’s Birthday” — Labor Day, and Columbus Day) to a holiday observed only on a Monday. This added three-day weekends to the American calendar, and prevented the loss of a holiday from work for the majority when Memorial and its companion “floating holidays” were observed on a weekend day.

And hey, Memorial Day wasn’t always known as “Memorial Day!” It officially began as “Decoration Day,” a name that stuck for decades. “Memorial Day” came into increasingly-common usage in the post-World War II period, but it didn’t officially supplant “Decoration Day” until the passage of a federal law in 1967.

Whether it’s called Decoration Day or Memorial Day, it is a moment for pausing to remember and respectfully salute those who served their country. It also was a perfect reason to sample Decoration/Memorial Day comic strips down through the years. Provided for your enjoyment: Gene Byrnes’s Reg’lar Fellers from May 30, 1925; the irrepressible Skippy, from the same day, ten years later; the last living Kryptonian (well, for a few more years, anyway) steering a course for romance as only he can in 1945’s May 30th Superman installment; Mutt and Jeff from — you guessed it! — Memorial Day, 1955; and Al Capp telling a Bondian spoof, featuring the one-and-only Fearless Fosdick, in a Li’l Abner Sunday page that ran on the 1965 holiday. Finally, a May 30, 1970 Tumbleweeds, because [A] Tom Ryan’s feature remains a personal favorite of mine, and [B] 1970 was the last official year of the “floating” Memorial Day holiday, since the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, though passed in 1968, did not officially take effect until 1971.

A few of these installments chose to mark the holiday, while others continued to do what they always did best. One way or the other, we think they make for pleasant reading, and we hope they add a little extra fun to your Memorial Weekend reading!

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