Memorial Day falls on the last Monday of May. Americans all over the country honor fallen service members with parades, barbecues and commemorative services.
Though Memorial Day was made an official federal holiday in 1971, its roots trace all the way back to the Civil War, when Northerners and Southerners alike were looking for a way to publicly mourn their fallen. Most observances were concentrated in the South, where the most Civil War graves were located.
Where is the birthplace of Memorial Day?
Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War.
On March 7, 1966, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller proclaimed the Seneca County village of Waterloo as the “birthplace of Memorial Day.” The proclamation said that Waterloo was the place for the “first, formal, complete, well-planned, village-wide observance of a day entirely dedicated to honoring the war dead.”
When did Memorial Day first start?
The first national celebration of Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery.On a national level, Decoration Day was expanded to honor all fallen U.S. service members after the end of WWI. In 1971, it became a federal holiday, with an official National Moment of Remembrance. At 3 p.m. local time, every American is encouraged to pause in silence for a minute to reflect on the sacrifice of the service members who gave their lives for this country.
We encourage you to reflect on those who gave their lives in defense of our country.