For those living in the United States, today is a holiday called Memorial Day today. This holiday is oft celebrated by spending the day at the lake or by firing up the barbecue. However, while those things are fun, there are some interesting facts behind the holiday we spend remembering all of those who have died fighting for our country.
- Origin–unknown. In fact, there are more than twenty-five different cities that claim to be the origin of this holiday.
- First officially celebrated–May 30, 1868
- Other names–Memorial Day was actually first known as Decoration Day because women of the south were going around and decorating the graves of the fallen Confederate soldiers.
- Common things done to celebrate and remember fallen soldiers:
Decorate gravesites with flowers and flags
Ceremony at Arlington National cemetery
- First person to proclaim “Memorial Day” was–Gen. John Logan. In May 1868 he asked for those still living to honor the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War.
- Memorial Day is always celebrated on the last Monday of May.
- Though Decoration Day/Memorial Day had been celebrated for more than 100 years already, it was not until 1971 that it became a Federal Holiday.
- Some southern states still observe different days as a way to remember their fallen. Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia celebrate in April; North and South Carolina celebrate May 10, Louisiana and Tennessee celebrate on June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday); Texas has a “Confederate Heroes Day” they celebrate on January 19; and Virginia celebrates in their own way on the last day in May.
- Ironton, Ohio can proudly claim the title of having the longest standing Memorial Day parade. In 1868, Ironton hosted a parade, and has continued to every year since.
- The Indianapolis 500 has run the day before Memorial day since 1911–exactly 100 years now!
So whether you’re grilling some burgers or waterskiing today, be sure to remember all the brave men and women who’ve died to give us our freedom. And, if you do not live in the United States, be sure to take a minute to think about those who’ve died defending your country, too.