Memorial Day Trivia and Facts
Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it was formerly known, is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May month every year. The day memorializes American men and women who met their fate on duty while serving for their country. It began with honoring the Union soldiers who went on to meet their maker during the American Civil War, but after World War I, it expanded to include all who passed away in any war or military action.
As per historical evidences, following the end of the Civil War, many communities reserved a day to mark the end of the war and mark respect to all those who had died. Some of the early cities creating a memorial day include Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; Carbondale, Illinois; Charleston, South Carolina; Columbus, Mississippi; Richmond, Virginia and some two dozen other cities and towns. These observances eventually banded together around Decoration Day honoring the Union dead and the several Confederate Memorial Days.
In 1865, following the suggestion of Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and an excursion.
Many people pay their homage to the martyrs by visiting memorial parks and commemorative plaque. To celebrate it at national level, a countrywide tribute is rendered at 1500 hours Washington time. Another ritual is to fly the US Flag at half-staff from dawn until local noon time. Volunteers place a US Flag upon each gravesite located in a National Cemetery.
Along with paying homage, Memorial Day is also a time for merry-making, outings, family get-togethers and adventurous sports. It is also a prevelant culture to view Memorial Day as the unofficial onset of summer season and Labor Day as the unofficial outset of the season. Some Americans also tribute the Memorial Day weekend to pay respect to any of the family members who have expired and not just servicemen. Also the Christian Church services on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day may also include recitation of the names of members who have died during the previous twelve months.
The Memorial Day officially was first celebrated in Waterloo, New York. The village was credited with being the birthplace because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter, and because it is likely that the friendship of General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo and General John A Logan, who led the call for the day to be observed each year and helped spread the event nationwide, was a key factor in its growth.
The Southeastern US celebrates Decoration Day by decorating the graves of all family members and this is not driven by the fact of being in military service or not. The county commemorates the Decoration Day on the Sunday before Memorial Day. Given its origin in the American Civil War, Memorial Day is not considered a holiday outside the US.
Tracing the History of When Did Memorial Day Become a National Holiday
Memorial Day is the day that we set aside to honor all U.S. men and women who have died in military service. It has an interesting and varied history, and the question of when did Memorial Day become a national holiday is one that inspires several different responses and comments. The one thing that may be stated without question is that this year it will be recognized on May 31st, 2017. This of course is the last Monday of the month of May and even how that date came to pass is part of the interesting story of the day.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. Some stories indicate and acknowledge that sometime in 1865, a large number of formerly enslaved black people who were freed at the conclusion of the Civil War, gathered at a place outside of Charleston, South Carolina that had served as first a confederate prison, and then as a mass grave for Union soldiers killed in battle. The place was known as Washington racetrack. Over a 10 day period, these people who had come together exhumed the bodies buried in the mass grave and proceeded to bury them properly and with honor. They built a fence around the graveyard and finished their efforts with a celebration of food, songs and sermons.
On May 5th, 1866 in the town Of Waterloo, New York, it is reported that the first observance of Decoration Day was recognized, and one of the people involved in that event whose name was General John Logan, went on to become commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. Through his efforts on May 5th, 1868, a proclamation was issued that Decoration Day would be recognized nationwide, and the date selected for that to happen officially was May 30th, 1868. This date, the 30th, was selected because it was one not designated as the date of a battle. Many southern states where lingering resentment carried forward from the Civil War refused to participate.
The term Memorial Day was first used in 1882, but it didn’t gain widespread use until after the end of the Second World War. Even then, it would take years more, until February 1967, until it would become the official name used to recognize the day. In 1971, along with several other holidays, in order to create three day weekends for workers, it was shifted to a Monday and in its case, the last Monday of May. This has been a cause of some concern for those who feel this switch has taken some of the respect for the memory of the observance away, and is still at times the subject of debate.
To this day however, people pay their respects and honor the memory of these heroes in different ways. Many will visit cemeteries or memorials and place either flowers or small American flags at the sites or on the graves. Often, those who fly the flag will do so at half-mast from dawn until noon their time. In addition, the current deployment of American men and women in harm’s way, has served as a reminder that the sacrifices are ongoing and must never be forgotten.
Memorial Day Activities in New England: Time to Honor the Veterans
May 30, 1868 saw the birth of the “Decoration Day” with friends, relatives as well as Civil War comrades-in-arms decorating the Union and Confederate soldiers’ graves with flowers at the Arlington National Cemetery. Subsequent to World War I, this day was renamed Memorial Day and came to be observed as a day to commemorate those who served the US military in any of the wars. Memorial Day activities in New England constitute parades or the different commemoration ceremonies held on the last Monday, in the month of May every year. In the year 2017, the Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 31.
The weekend preceding the Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to the vacation season or the summer travel for the people of the United States. During this weekend every year, highways remain busy, trains, planes and buses are filled to the brim and if you plan to travel to New England during this time, it is strongly advised that you make prior reservations for lodgings and transportations. Weather can be unpredictable – you might experience warm and sunny or hot and humid weather or it can even be cold, raw and chilly.
Memorial Day weekend spots in New England are quite a lot and you will be almost spoilt for choice. Destinations in this area to look out for include Hyannis, MA, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Newport, RI, Old Lyme, Conn, Bristol, RI, and Boston, MA, to name a few. You will find many resorts planning up several events and activities to make your Memorial Day weekend an enjoyable and a fruitful one. While remembering those people as well as the events of the past, which have influenced our lives, you may take part in such planned activities like fireworks, scenic airplane rides, carnival events and many more such options.
You will find a blend of the old and the new in Boston, MA. The Freedom Trail of the yesteryears will lead to the ancient Italian neighborhoods and also you will have modern upscale shopping and dining experiences at Newbury Street or the Beacon Hill.
Boston, MA provides different activities for you to indulge in and have a fun filled day that will give you everlasting memories. Among the different Memorial Day activities in New England, special mention must be made of this city where large number of events are usually lined up to offer you a fabulous time. The Memorial Day Parade features various bands, floats as well as veterans for you to pay tribute to them. You can also take part in the Bostons Run to Remember that honors the law enforcing members who gave up their lives for duty. You may also pay a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts or be thoroughly entertained by the Street Performer Festival. There are several other activities as well; these are just a few examples. Head to New England in the Memorial Day weekend to catch up with the unending array of activities and drown in the festive spirit.
How did Memorial Day come into existence in America?
Memorial Day came into existence because people wanted to remember those who died bravely. It was originally called Decoration Day. It came into prominence as a result of community groups in the South who set aside a day to decorate the graves of dead Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. The practice grew to include Union soldiers as well. While lots of communities lay claim to having begun the observance of a Decoration Day, it was not until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that the official birthplace of Memorial Day observances would be Waterloo, NY, in commemoration of the first national observance on May 5th 1866. In 1868, due to the efforts of General John A. Logan, who led a prominent veterans’ organization, a proclamation was issued that Decoration Day should become a nationwide celebration on May 30th. At that first national celebration, flowers were laid on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In time, Decoration Day came to be celebrated in almost every state. The observance was expanded to honor and remember all American soldiers who died serving their country. Some southern states, however, still honor their Confederate War dead separately.
Here are some of the trivia that you can make into questions
- Decoration Day became Memorial Day officially in 1967.
- It was declared a national holiday in 1971, and
- it is celebrated on the last Monday in May.
- It is one of three holidays (the others are Washington’s Birthday, now Presidents Day and Veterans Day) that are shifted from their actual date to a specified Monday. This adds up to a long weekend.
Why was May 30th selected to celebrate Memorial Day?
Some have said that May 30 was selected because flowers would be in bloom throughout the country. Other sources note that May 30 is not associated with any battle.
How do we celebrate Memorial Day?
The traditional American Memorial Day celebration featured parades, flags flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon, speeches, visits to national cemeteries to place flags on the graves of the fallen. The VFW sold poppies for people to wear. At 3 p.m. local time, the nation is asked to pause for a moment of silence. This is known as the Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance. After Memorial Day was folded into a long weekend, the celebrations became less aimed at remembering our war dead and more geared to family events picnics, barbecues, festivals and sporting events. The Indianapolis 500 has been held on Memorial Day weekend since 1911. The holiday is thought of as the beginning of summer.
There are several nationally televised events, which seek to restore the dignity and solemnity of Memorial Day. The change in the tone of this holiday has become a source of concern for veterans groups, who feel that the picnic-like atmosphere has detracted from the historical intent of the day.