3 Interesting Facts You May Not Have Known About Memorial Day

Each year, Americans spend the Memorial Day long weekend relaxing with friends and family and ushering in the summer months. However, while the holiday is often treated in a celebratory manner, its true purpose is to honor and commemorate all those who have lost their lives while serving their country in conflicts both at home and abroad.

As you observe Memorial Day this year, here are some interesting and lesser-known facts to keep in mind:

– It was originally called Decoration Day. The traditions surrounding Memorial Day began in the wake of the Civil War, which claimed the lives of over 600,000 soldiers. After the war, veterans in both the North and the South would decorate the graves of their fallen comrades with flowers. In 1868—three years after the Civil War ended—veteran John Logan established Decoration Day to be recognized on May 30. On that day, people would be encouraged to continue the tradition of placing flowers on the graves of their lost loved ones. In fact, the reason why Logan chose May 30 was that flowers would be in full bloom by that time. The first official National Decoration Day ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery and presided over by General Ulysses S. Grant.

– Memorial Day was not an official holiday until 1968. By the 1960s, the holiday had come to be known as Memorial Day rather than Decoration Day, and was intended to commemorate Americans who had sacrificed their lives in all the country’s wars, rather than just the Civil War. However, despite the prevalence of Memorial Day events and ceremonies across the country, it was not recognized as an official federal holiday until the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. This Act also established several other American holidays to fall on Mondays, including Labor Day, Veterans Day, and years later, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

– Memorial Day is one of the few days when flags are ordered to fly at half-staff. Specifically, the proper etiquette for anyone flying an American flag is to raise it quickly to full-staff, then slowly lower it to half-staff until noon, when the flag should briefly be raised to the full-staff position once again to serve as a salute for those who have fallen in the line of duty. In addition, at 3 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to pause for one minute to silently pay their respects.

Sources: firstcoastnews.com

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