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The History of Memorial Day

The History of Memorial Day
Posted: May 27, 2022
Categories: Committees
Comments: 2

By Christine Benedict, NFRW Armed Services Committee

Memorial Day traditionally marks the start of summer in the United States.

But how much do you know about this holiday. Do you know its meaning? Its history? How about its traditions?

In the United States, Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day, traditionally is the last Monday in May. It honors those who have died in the nation’s wars. It originated during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle.

More than a half dozen places have claimed to be the birthplace of the holiday. However, by congressional proclamation in 1966, Waterloo, New York, was cited as the birthplace.

After World War I, as the day came to be observed in honor of those who had died in all United States wars, its name changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day.

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May. Several Southern states also observe a separate day to honor the Confederate dead.

Memorial Day is observed with the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. It is also observed by religious services, parades, and speeches nationwide. Flags, insignia and flowers are placed on the graves of veterans in local cemeteries.

This year, Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 30, 2022. 



2 comments on article "The History of Memorial Day"

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Helen Almonte, 6/8/2022 5:23 AM

Some believe General Logan planned the first Decoration Day for May 30th, because both Northern and Southern states would have flowers in bloom by then, though others say the date was chosen because it didn’t coincide with the anniversary of any battles.

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Helen Almonte, 6/8/2022 5:24 AM

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