This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, known to many as the unofficial start of the summer season. Memorial Day is more than that. This Monday, May 31st, Americans around the world remember and honor all of those who died while serving in the US Military.
Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May every year. The day was originally known as Decoration Day and originated in the years following the Civil War in the mid-1860’s. It was not until 1971 after the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect and moved the holiday to the last Monday in May, when Memorial Day became a Federal holiday.
Memorial Day is typically observed by many Americans visiting grave sites or memorials, beach and lake visits, holding cookouts with friends and family, and even firework celebrations. As things across the country start opening for the summer season.
Here are some interesting Facts about Memorial Day:
- Its customary for the US President or Vice President to give a speech.
- Multiple cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day: But according to Congress, President Johnson declared Waterloo, New York to be the “Birthplace of Memorial Day” referring a celebration the town held in 1866. Many other cities are known to have celebrated the holiday earlier, but the first celebration remains in dispute.
- It was originally called Decoration Day: It was celebrated by decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flags, flowers and more.
- Union General John A. Logon founded the holiday: General Logon called for the holiday to be observed on May 30th in 1868
- Originally the holiday was only to honor those that died whiling serving in the Civil War. It was not until after World War II, that Memorial Day began to honor all members of the American Armed Forces.
- Memorial Day was not always held on the last Monday of May: it was not until 1971 when the after the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect in 1971 and was then changed to the last Monday in May.
- In 2000, Congress passed a National Moment of Remembrance which ask Americans to pause for one minute at 3 pm in at act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3 pm is a time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.