Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the US that honors the soldiers who died while serving their country. It will be observed on 29th May this year (2023).
Memorial Day has a long and interesting history that many Americans are unaware of. Here are 7 things about Memorial Day you probably didn’t know.
It wasn’t Always Known as the Memorial Day
Memorial Day first started as a way to honor the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that died in the American Civil War. Women would decorate the graves of the fallen with flowers and flags, which is why it came to be known as Decoration Day.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that people started calling it Memorial Day and it only legally became Memorial Day in 1967.
It Used to be Observed on the 30th of May
For more than a hundred years, Memorial Day was observed on the 30th of May every year. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was implemented which shifted the holiday to the last Monday of May to ensure long weekends.
It was First Observed on May 30, 1868
It was first officially observed on May 30, 1868. President James A. Garfield delivered a famously long speech at Arlington National Cemetery with around 5,000 people present. They decorated the graves of more than 20,000 soldiers at the event.
The National Moment of Remembrance Also Takes Place on Memorial Day
National Moment of Remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day when people are supposed to pause for one minute in memory of the soldiers that died protecting their country. According to a law passed in the year 2000, pausing at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day is a legal requirement for every citizen—although most people are unaware of this.
New York Was the First to Make It Official
New York was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day in 1873. Waterloo, New York is also the birthplace of Memorial Day, although some other towns such as Boalsburg, PA, claim the same. The holiday was widely adopted throughout the northern US by the late 1880s, while some states in the south only started observing it after WWI.
Confederate Heroes Day, Confederate Decoration Day, and Confederate Memorial Day
Some southern states have their own versions of Memorial Day. Some also call it Confederate Decoration Day or Confederate Heroes Day. They organize these events on different dates, such as June 3 which is the birthday of Jefferson Davis, or May 10 which is the day he was captured.
Memorial Day Weekends Have Been a Great Success for Movies
The live-action adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is coming out this Memorial weekend. Traditionally, the 3-day weekend has been a great success for movies and many of the best-grossing movies were released on the Memorial weekend. These include Mission Impossible 1 and 2, Fast and Furious 6, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Return of the Jedi.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that started in 1868 in honor of soldiers that died in the Civil War. It was celebrated on 30th May which changed to the last Monday of May in 1971. Waterloo is considered to be the birthplace of Memorial Day while many Confederate states have their own versions of the holiday observed on different dates.