Memorial Day is a time to remember those who died while serving our nation. Celebrations are held across the country and include everything from town parades, to haunting renditions of Taps played in cemeteries where those who served our country were laid to rest. When doing research on the history of Memorial Day and in particular how it came to be named “Memorial Day” I discovered some interesting facts:
1. Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day” to reflect the tradition of decorating the graves of soldiers who had died during the Civil War.
2. Which town is responsible for starting the tradition is still a disputed fact, although Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966.
3. Decoration Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
4. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868 and continued to be observed on May 30th until 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This Act established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a 3-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. Many use the holiday as a reason for a vacation, family gathering, or barbecue. But let us all remember the true reason for the holiday – to honor those who died serving our country.