History of Memorial Day

posted in: Holidays | 0

Memorial Day is a holiday to remember those men and women who died while serving our country’s armed forces.  {Not to be confused with Veterans Day in November that honors living servicemen and women.}

The holiday originated as Decoration Day in 1868, following the end of the American Civil War. This was a time to decorate the graves of the dead with flowers.  For a while both the North and South had separate dates for this celebration before it eventually merged into one national holiday.

However, the first publicized observance of Memorial Day was in nearby Charleston, SC on May 1, 1865.  This was less than a month after the official end of the American Civil War and two weeks after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

This holiday is described by historian David Blight, “African Americans invented Memorial Day…they were recently freed from slavery and announced to the world with flowers…and song what the war was about. This became the Independence of a Second American Revolution.”

However, it was not until over 100 years later in 1967, that Memorial Day became a Federal Holiday.  In 1971, the date was moved to the last Monday of May for an easy three day weekend. 

Memorial Day is also the official start of the summer holiday, which officially ends on Labor Day in early September.

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