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5 Facts about Memorial Day

Take a closer look at this holiday and stuff yourself with interesting bits of information for a new-found appreciation for this meaningful occasion.

Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day

It wasn't until the 1880s when the term Memorial Day was used. However, it was only after World War II when the old term Decoration Day disappeared. "Decoration Day" comes from the practice of decorating graves with wreaths, flowers, and flags.

Gen. John A. Logan made it official

Gen. Logan, who was the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared Memorial Day as the national day of commemorating over 620,000 soldiers killed in the Civil War. On this day, Americans should honor the soldiers by laying flowers and decorating the graves of the war dead.

Memorial Day was originally observed on May 30

When the holiday was made official, it was issued that the commemoration should be on a fixed day, May 30. However, four years after Memorial Day was made official, the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day has a long history of customs and traditions

It is believed that America's practice of honoring those who had fallen in battle has its ancient roots, although it had only entered its shores during the late 19th century.

When the decree to make it an official holiday was issued, there was no prescribed form of ceremony for Memorial Day. As time went by, a lot of customs and symbols have been associated with it, such as the raising of the flag at half staff until noon and then flying it to the top of the staff until sunset.

Memorial Day became only became a federal holiday in 1971

Americans already embraced the concept of Decoration Day even before its official declaration as a holiday. In fact, during the first year, more than 27 states held some kind of ceremony with thousands of people in attendance. It was only in the 1970s when Memorial Day was officially recognized across the country with the U.S. deeply involved in the Vietnam War.

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Gladdys Garcia

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