Memorial Day: 5 Interesting Facts

Memorial Day is seen as the unofficial start of summer and has become synonymous with trips to the beach and backyard barbecues. Often overlooked is the real reason behind the holiday - honoring the nation's fallen service members.

With that in mind, here are five interesting facts about Memorial Day:

1. From Decoration Day to Memorial Day: Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day began as an effort to honor Union soldiers who died during the Civil War. Union General John A. Logan called for the first nationwide Decoration Day on May 30, 1868, which was marked by decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and flags. Over time, it became known as Memorial Day. In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended the honor to all soldiers who have died in American wars.

 

Gen. Logan
Photo credit bioguide.congress.gov

 

2. You know where you were born, right? There have been battles for years about the birthplace of Memorial Day. President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, to be the "Birthplace of Memorial Day" in 1966, according to the Library of Congress. Other localities are known to have celebrated the holiday earlier, and exactly where the first celebration took place remains up for debate.