Memorial Day is an annual holiday in remembrance of American soldier deaths. Here are some facts about Memorial Day that you might not know:
5. Decoration Day: The holiday we celebrate today originated in the year 1868, and back then it was titled Decoration Day. Decoration Day was set to decorate the graves of those estimated 620,000 men that lost their lives in the Civil War. No other American conflict was this devastating, with a 2% population loss.
4. How Things Have Changed: Since the holiday was first declared, many things have changed. The biggest change was the name of the holiday, going from Decoration to Memorial Day. The name change came with a change in the overall meaning of Memorial Day; a remembrance of all fallen soldiers including, but not limited to the Civil War that inspired the holiday. Originally Memorial Day was set as May 30, but has since changed to the last Monday in May, regardless of what date it falls on.
3. Official Time of Remembrance: On December 28, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act which designated 3.00pm local time on Memorial Day each year as a moment of remembrance. This moment is a time to reflect on the American soldiers that died in the pursuit of freedom and peace. This Public Law No. 106-579 was inspired by the 3pm memorial radio commemoration that took place in 1997.
2. Birthplace of Memorial Day: For years there was conflict over the originating city of Memorial Day, but in the year 1966 U.S. Congress declared Waterloo, New York as the founding city. In the Civil War, New York had the highest Union deaths of any other state at nearly 40,000, half caused by disease.
1. Confederate Memorial Day: A separate Memorial Day is celebrated in many southern states to honor soldiers that died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The exact date of this holiday varies from state-to-state, and is sometimes referred to as Confederate Heroes Day, or Confederate Decoration Day.
On a lighter note, Memorial Day is also considered the gateway to summer, as it marks the beginning of the season. Because of this, many Americans celebrate with picnics, and barbecues in addition to the traditional decoration of graves. Memorial Day parades are also abundant, particularly in Chicago where some of the largest parades are held.