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The history of Memorial Day is a story few ever know.

Now You Know

It Wasn’t Always
Memorial Day…

  • Tradition dates back to Civil War.
  • Leader of veterans group proclaimed May 30th – Decoration Day – a day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice by decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers.
  • May 30th chosen reportedly because flowers bloomed nationwide.
Now You Know

About 25 Cities Claim Ties To First Memorial Day…

incl. Columbus, Miss., April 1866.

According to lore, a group of women visiting a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers, saw neglected graves of Union soldiers and decided to place flowers on ALL the graves despite the war ending a year earlier.

Now You Know
  • The first “Memorial Day” at Arlington spearheaded by Gen. Logan (Civil War vet who led a veterans group).
  • Fmr. Union General & soon-to-be-elected President Ulysess S. Grant attended.
  • About 5,000 people gathered & put small American flags on graves ~ About the same # of people attend in modern times and do exactly the same thing.
Now You Know

Federal Holiday: 1971
Last Monday of May

MEMORIAL DAY: “a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

VETERANS DAY (Nov 11):  “largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service…”

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“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance...Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

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Sources

  • Memorial Day History https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp
  • From Decoration Day to Memorial Day https://blogs.loc.gov/picturethis/2015/05/from-decoration-day-to-memorial-day/
  • Difference between Memorial Day & Veterans Dayhttps://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetday_faq.aspQ. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.
  • About the photo we usedhttps://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c31718/