Memorial Day Facts
Memorial Day is one of the most significant holidays in the United States. It honors the military personnel who lost their lives while serving the country. It also a remembrance of peace and freedom for the United States and arguably the world as a whole through the sacrifices of the U.S. military. Get to know about this historical day with these Memorial Day facts.
- Memorial Day honors and mourns the military personnel who lost their lives serving the United States.
- Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States.
- Annually, thousands and thousands of people join and commemorate this event.
- Memorial Day occurs every year on the last Monday of May.
- On May 2021, Memorial Day will fall on May 31, and in 2022, it will be on May 30.
- Memorial Day is also known as Decoration Day.
- People commemorate the event by decorating the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers, flags, and wreaths.
- Memorial Day became its official title in the 1880s.
- Memorial Day or was first celebrated on May 30, 1868.
- The first Decoration Day took place at Arlington National Cemetery.
- The United States Library of Congress stated that southern women first decorated the graves of soldiers.
- Every year, volunteers put the American flag on graves of fallen soldiers.
- The first several Memorial Day celebrations were not as big as today but it eventually grew over time.
- Warrenton, Virginia, was the location of the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever to be decorated on June 3, 1861.
- John Quincy Marr was the first Civil War soldier to be decorated at his funeral on June 1, 1861.
- Many commercial stores in the U.S. offer a huge sale during Memorial Day.
- People consider Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer in the U.S.
- Meanwhile, people consider Labor Day as the unofficial start of autumn in the U.S (first Monday in September).
- The United States also has Armed Forces Day which is celebrated a few days before Memorial Day (third Saturday in May).
- Annually, the United States also recognizes its veteran soldiers through Veterans Day (November 11).
The history of Memorial Day in the U.S. is a little complicated.
Arlington National Cemetery is officially recognized as the first Memorial Day site. Despite this, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges over 20 places claiming to be the first to hold the practice.
Each American takes part in the National Moment of Remembrance each year.
The National Moment of Remembrance is a yearly event that urges each American to observe a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day. This one-minute pause aims to honor those who have died in military service.
The National Moment of Remembrance started in the year 2000.
The National Moment of Remembrance was created after a survey in the year 2000 revealed that only 28% of Americans know the essence of Memorial Day. Even more, the younger generation mostly defined Memorial Day as the reopening of parks and swimming pools.
The National Moment of Remembrance symbolizes unity.
To clarify, the National Moment of Remembrance does not replace the event of Memorial Day. It’s only a complementary observance in respect of the soldiers from around the world who sacrificed for peace and freedom of the United States.
The Civil War started on April 12, 1861.
The war between the Confederate States and the United States started on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina. The main cause of the war was the Constitutional principle that declined to recognize the southern states’ right to secede from the Union.
Around 655,000 Americans died during the Civil War.
The 4-year Civil War claimed the lives of almost 700,000 American soldiers. It is by far the highest casualty count for any war in American history, even surpassing the death tolls of World War I or World War II.
Memorial Day was created because of the Civil War.
Memorial Day was a response to the bloodshed of the Civil War, the lives that were taken, and its effect on the communities in the United States. The gravity of the losses suffered in the Civil War led to several spontaneous commemorations of the fallen.
People consider General John A. Logan as the founder of Memorial Day.
People consider General John A. Logan as the founder of Memorial Day. On May 5, 1868, the General issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed yearly throughout the United States.
The Memorial Day "evolved".
Before Memorial Day became a worldwide observance, it was strictly for honoring the Americans who died during the Civil War. This only changed after World War I, where the US government decided to honor all the soldiers who died serving the country for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day falls on May partly because of flowers.
One of the reasons why the US commemorates Memorial Day every end of May is the abundance of flowers blooming during this month.
Veterans Day and Memorial Day are both patriotic holidays honoring the military.
Although they almost serve the same purpose by honoring the military, they have a significant difference. Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the military, while Veterans Day recognizes all who have served in the Armed Forces.
Waterloo, New York, is the “birthplace” of Memorial Day.
President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day in 1966. On May 5, 1866, a ceremony was held honoring the veterans who had fought in the Civil War. According to the proclamation, Waterloo provided the first formal observance of Memorial Day.
Some believe that Abraham Lincoln was the founder of Memorial Day.
Under the Lincoln administration, a cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania held a ceremony of commemoration at soldiers’ graves in 1863. Since this obviously precedes the official declaration of Memorial Day in 1868, some believe that Lincoln may have initiated the practice.
Doylestown, Pennsylvania observed Memorial Day since 1868.
For the same reason, Doylestown, Pennsylvania holds the claim to being the oldest state to practice Memorial Day. However, records show that Rochester, Wisconsin, observed Memorial Day a year ahead than Doylestown.
The Women's Relief Corps sponsored the ceremonies during the 1890s.
Michigan declared Memorial Day as an official state holiday since the year 1871. By 1890, all of the northern states followed suit. During those years, the Women’s Relief Corps sponsored the ceremonies.
Boalsburg, Pennsylvania also claims to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.
According to local archaeologists, women in 1864 decorated soldiers’ tombs in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Because of this, Boalsburg advertises itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day. However, this data only emerged in 1904 during the publication of the History of the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Some of the states observe the Confederate Memorial Day.
Not to be confused with Memorial Day, some states in the South observe the Confederate Memorial Day. These states include Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, North, and South Carolina. True to its namesake, this holiday honors the Confederate soldiers who have died in military service between January 19th and June 3rd.
Memorial Day used to be associated with picnics.
During the early years of Memorial Day, holding picnics at cemeteries was a common Memorial Day practice. Today, there are still some people in the rural areas of the South that continue this tradition every year.
Canadian poet John McCrae introduced red poppies for Memorial Day.
The practice of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day originated from John McCrae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields.‘ Similarly, people in Canada, wear red poppies to honor its soldiers on Remembrance Day in November every year.