Memorial Day

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This Monday, VFWs, American Legions and community members will mark Memorial Day with various services and honors. 

Here's how to mark Memorial Day near you

The day honors all those who have died while serving the U.S. When did this practice begin? 

The holiday dates back to the 19th century.

 In 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Decoration Day began. This holiday was established by the Grandy Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, to decorate the graves of those killed in the war, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. 

May 30 was the day named, likely because it was a time when flowers would be in bloom to decorate the graves. 

Tributes had been held around this time in previous years, and now many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day starting in 1866. These include: 

  • Macon, Georgia

  • Columbus, Georgia

  • Richmond, Virginia

  • Boalsburg, Pennsylvania 

  • Carbondale, Illinois 

U.S. Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared the official birthplace to be Waterloo, New York in 1966. A hundred years earlier, veterans who had fought in the Civil War were honored and flags were flown at half-staff.

The practice marking Decoration Day on May 30 was common throughout the country by the end of the 19th century, with state governments and the Army and the Navy adopting formal observances. 

Up until World War I, the day remained tied officially to the Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include all who died in any American war. 

Memorial Day was made a national holiday in 1971.


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