Ten Things You Should Know About Memorial Day
Courtesy of www.usmemorialday.org and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Editor's note: This article originally ran on May 30, 2011.
How did Memorial Day get started? Here are some facts about the national day of remembrance for America’s fallen heroes.
- Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.
- More than two dozen cities lay claim to being the site of the first Memorial Day commemoration.
- Gen. John Logan officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868.
- The first national commemoration took place on May 30, 1868, as flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
- In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day, citing a ceremony held on May 5, 1866 to honor Civil War dead.
- It is believed that the date was chosen because by May 30, flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
- Inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field,” Moina Michael wrote a poem of her own, and came up with the idea of wearing red poppies in honor of Memorial Day.
- Some Southern states have special observances specifically in honor of fallen Confederate soldiers, including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
- In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act to encourage people to give back to the country, as well as promote commemorations of Memorial Day.
- The National Moment of Remembrance Act urges all Americans to pause, wherever they may be, at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence in honor of the country’s fallen heroes.