A day to remember & honor our heroes
The Origin and History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day dates back to pre-Civil War times, but it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when because historical records are scarce for pre-Civil War grave decoration. On June 3rd, 1861, the first Civil War grave of a soldier was decorated with flowers in Warrenton, Virginia. But Memorial Day was first known by a different name - Decoration Day - when the practice of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers started in graveyards at certain times of year.
Decoration Day Becomes Memorial Day
On Decoration Day, people got together to decorate the graves of dead soldiers with flowers or wreaths. In both the North and South of the United States, Decoration Day was observed on different days in different states. In some places in the South, local graveyards still celebrate this older day in addition to the modern Memorial Day.
During the Civil War, nearly 850,000 lives were lost. Decoration Day served the purpose of uniting both sides and heal the bitter wounds. Both the North and the South began to put into practice more formal, broadly accepted Memorial Day to honor soldiers who had fallen in battle. In the North, May 30, 1868, the first official Decoration Day was celebrated. The term Memorial Day was first used in May 1882. However, the name change to Memorial Day was not widespread until after World War II.
In 1968, Congress decided to pass a law, The Uniform Monday Holiday Act moving four federal holidays to a particular Monday in May, in order to have three-day weekends that were more convenient. This meant Memorial Day became the last Monday in every May instead of the traditional date of May 30th.