What are 6 facts about Memorial Day?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

1. Origin and Name: Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was first observed after the American Civil War. It was a way to honor and remember the soldiers who lost their lives in battle by decorating their graves with flowers and flags.

2. Date Change: Memorial Day was traditionally celebrated on May 30th, but in 1971, the United States Congress declared it a national holiday and changed its observance to the last Monday in May. This change was made to create a three-day weekend and allow for more people to participate in Memorial Day events.

3. National Moment of Remembrance: In 2000, Congress passed a law requiring all Americans to observe a National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM local time on Memorial Day. This moment is meant to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women who died serving their country.

4. James A. Garfield’s Influence: James A. Garfield, who later became the 20th President of the United States, played a significant role in the establishment of Memorial Day. As a former Union Army general, Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868, where he called for a day of remembrance for those who died in the Civil War.

5. Confederate Memorial Day: While Memorial Day is a national holiday honoring all fallen soldiers, some states also have separate observances for Confederate soldiers. States like Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi have designated Confederate Memorial Day, usually observed in April or May, to honor those who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

6. Birthplace of Memorial Day: While there are several claims to the birthplace of Memorial Day, the town of Waterloo, New York is officially recognized as its birthplace. On May 5, 1866, the residents of Waterloo held a community-wide event to honor local soldiers who had died in the Civil War. This event is considered the first formal observance of Memorial Day.