Memorial Day is here, which means Summer has began. But, the day is about more than just grilling, swimming, and enjoying a drink… or three. Enjoy these eight facts about Memorial Day and see how many you already knew!
1) Memorial Day got its start just after the Civil War
Not the Captain America one either. It was all started in 1868 with the Grand Army of the Republic. A group made up of Union veterans from Decatur, Illinois. It was established it as a day for the nation to decorate the graves of dead soldiers with flowers.
2) Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day
The day was originally used to lay out flowers and other decorations on the graves of fallen soldiers. Memorial Day finally emerged as the name for the holiday after the Union and the Confederate holidays were merged in the mid-20th century.
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3) Its birthplace is credited to New York
Although it can trace its roots back to Decatur, Illinois, the official birthplace of the holiday is considered to be Waterloo, New York which held the first recorded observance of the holiday. President Lyndon B. Johnson would later sign the national bill recognizing the day in Waterloo.
4) The North and South celebrated different holidays
Just because the Civil War was over, didn’t mean that the North and South suddenly got along. So, there was no way they were going to get together and celebrate the same holiday. The South celebrated their holiday, known as Confederate Memorial Day, between April and May. Just never may 30th as that was a “Yankee” holiday.
5) It took some time for the United States to unify under one holiday
Memorial day wasn’t officially recognized until President Johnson signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Law in 1968. This bill also recognized and created other “legal public holidays” including New Year’s Day, Washington’s Birthday, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
6) Not everyone has forgotten the original holiday.
11 States still celebrate some form of Confederate Memorial Day. Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, And Florida all celebrate the old holiday
7) Some want to take away your three-day weekend
The Democratic Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye spent two-and-a-half decades trying to undo what LBJ did by placing Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. Inouye and other veterans wanted the day to be on the fixed date of May 30th to draw more attention to the fallen instead of being about a three-day weekend.
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8) You are legally obligated to observe a moment of peace
In 2000, a bill was signed into law requiring all Americans to pause and observe a moment of peace at 3 pm local time. So on Monday, put the hot dogs and beers down for a minute and give the holiday a moment of reflection.