Share these facts about Memorial Day at your next holiday gathering.
What is Memorial Day? Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was a day set aside in May for decorating the graves of soldiers who died during the Civil War. After World War I, Memorial Day became a day to honor American military members who had died in all wars, not just the Civil War.
When was the first Memorial Day? According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, General John Logan announced on May 5, 1868 that Decoration Day was to take place on May 30 as a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. May 30 was chosen because flowers would be in full bloom.
When was the first local observance of Memorial Day? Several communities claim to be the originator of Memorial Day—Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; and Carbondale, Illinois among them.
Where is the official birthplace of Memorial Day? In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the official birthplace of Memorial Day because it was the first to make the day an annual community-wide event.
When did Memorial Day become an official U.S. holiday? In 1971, Memorial Day was declared an official holiday to take place on the last Monday in May.
Why is Memorial Day considered a dangerous holiday? Memorial Day weekend is a busy travel weekend for many Americans. It's also a busy weekend for automobile accidents.
What is the epicenter of Memorial Day observances? The first large observance of Memorial Day took place at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia in 1868. A memorial service is held each Memorial Day at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington Cemetery and by the placing of small American flags at the grave of each fallen soldier.
Who places the flags on the graves at Arlington? On the Thursday before Memorial Day, soldiers of the U.S. 3rd Infantry place small American flags at the more than 260,000 graves in the cemetery. The graves are patrolled to ensure no flags are removed.
What is the National Moment of Remembrance? Established in 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance is a moment of silence at 3:00 P.M. Americans are asked to pause from their holiday activities and honor those who gave their lives for freedom. 3:00 P.M. was chosen because that's the most likely time for enjoying holiday festivities.
Are there any special traditions involving the American flag? American flags should be flown at half mast until noon on Memorial Day and then raised to full staff until sunset.
What are the top foods served at Memorial Day gatherings? Hamburgers, steaks, chicken, and hot dogs are all top options for Memorial Day cookouts.
Is Memorial Day the most popular holiday for grilling? No. Memorial Day is second behind the 4th of July.
It's OK to forget these facts, but don't forget those who gave their lives.