Today, Memorial Day is synonymous with barbecues, picnics—but did you know that Memorial Day began over 150 years ago? How interesting is this?! We have put together a few fun and interesting facts about this amazing day in American history that some of you might not know about.
Originally, This Day Was Called Decoration Day
The holiday was celebrated by “decorating” the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, flags, and more. This is where the original name for this day originated, but over time this day was reborn in the 1880s and named, what it is today, Memorial Day. Memorial day only became a legal holiday in 1967.
Multiple Cities Claim To Be The Birthplace Of Memorial Day
Most people will argue and tell you that it is declared that the official birthplace of the Memorial Day is, in fact, Waterloo, New York. This fact references a day, the city celebrated in 1866, but there are other places that are known to have celebrated the holiday earlier. It is unknown to us to this day where the first celebration really took place.
Who Founded This Day?
The holiday’s founder was Union General John A. Logan. He was the commander-in-chief of the Union’s veteran’s group also known as the Grand Army of the Republic. It is told that he originally chose May 30, because it was a day that did not fall on any anniversary of a Civil War battle.
Memorial Day Wasn’t Celebrated On The “Last Monday In May” Until Relatively Recently
It is a fact that this holiday was originally celebrated on the 30th of May each year. In 1971 however, this day was moved to the final Monday in May to ensure long weekends. Some groups of people, like the veterans’ organization American Legion, have been working to restore the original date to set Memorial Day apart and pay proper tribute to the servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives defending the nation.
Silence At 3:00 PM
When Congress passed legislation in 2000, since then, each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. All American citizens are encouraged to pause at this moment in silence as a show of respect to those soldiers who sacrificed their lives.
U.S. President Or Vice President Gives A Speech
Traditionally, the United States president gives a speech that is delivered at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the 3rd U.S. Infantry also place American flags in front of Arlington’s over 260,000 graves and niches.
Soldiers Who Died In The Civil War Were Honored
After WWI, this holiday began to encompass members of the American armed forces who had fallen in any conflict. U.S. citizens are asked to display the national flag at half-staff from their homes before noon.
Learning more about the history of Memorial Day gives us all pause as we contemplate the ultimate sacrifices of these valiant men and women. We thank you for your dedication to the freedom of our great country.