Observers here may have noted that I failed to put up a post for Memorial Day when this post was first made, in 2012.
This is in part due to Memorial Day being one of those days that moves around as, in recent years, Congress has attempted to make national holidays into three day weekends. That's nice for people, but in some ways it also takes away from the holiday a bit. At the same time, it sort of tells you that if a holiday hasn't been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday, next to its original location on the calendar, it means that the holiday is either hugely important, a religious holiday, or extremely minor. The 4th of July and Flag Day, one major and one minor, do not get moved, for example.
Anyhow, Memorial Day commenced at some point either immediately after or even during the Civil War, depending upon how you reckon it, and if you are date dependent for the origin of the holiday. In American terms, the day originally served to remember the dead of the then recent Civil War. The holiday, in the form of "Decoration Day" was spreading by the late 1860s. The name Memorial Day was introduced in the 1880s, but the Decoration Day name persisted until after World War Two. The holiday became officially named Memorial Day by way of a Federal statute passed in 1967. In 1971 the holiday was subject to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which caused it to fall on the last Monday of May, as it does now.
The day, therefore, would have always been observed in Wyoming, which had Grand Army of the Republic lodges since prior to statehood. But, like many holidays of this type, observation of the holiday had changed over the years. In the 1960s and 1970s, by my recollection, the day was generally observed by people visiting the grave sites of any deceased family member, and therefore it was more of a day to remember the dead, rather than a day to recall the war dead. This, however, has changed in recent years to a very noticeable extent. Presently, it tends to serve as a second Veterans Day, during which veterans in general are recalled. This year, for example, Middle School children in Natrona County decorated the graves of servicemen in the county with poppies, strongly recalling the poppy campaigns of the VFW that existed for many years.
Wyoming has a strong military culture, even though the state has lost all but two of its military installations over the years. The state had the highest rate of volunteers for the service during World War Two, and it remained strongly in support of the Vietnam War even when it turned unpopular nationwide. The state's National Guard has uniquely played a role in every US war since statehood, including Vietnam, so perhaps the state's subtle association with Memorial Day may be stronger than might be supposed.
On remembrance, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out our Some Gave All site.