Memorial Day: From Civil War to Present Day


Erin Eppig, Promotions Manager

Many view Memorial Day as the unofficial kickoff of summer, filled with outdoor grilling and family picnics. It can be easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Memorial Day in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Today, HawkEye Media is going to take a moment to share some little known facts about Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”

The Civil War claimed more lives than any other U.S. conflict. On May 5th, 1868, Decoration Day was officially established as a time where many Americans pay tribute to the fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers, a tradition still carried out by many Americans today. Major General John A Logan declared this holiday should be held on the 30th of May every year. It is widely believed that this change was made to ensure that flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

Waterloo, NY is officially recognized as the birthplace of Memorial Day

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson gave Waterloo this distinction because it was the first known community to host an annual formal community wide Decoration Day event on May 5th, 1866. During this day local businesses closed to ensure the whole community could take part in honoring the local veterans who perished in the Civil War by decorating their graves and reciting hymns and prayers.

There is a moment of remembrance every Memorial Day

In December 2000, U.S. Congress passed and the President signed into law the “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” to ensure that the sacrifices of the fallen are never forgotten. Every Memorial Day everyone can join countless others and take part in the Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. This is often referred to as “The Moment” and is intended to be an act the unifies Americans with their gratitude. The Moment is an informal observance most often expressed as a moment of silence.

Our hope is we can all take away a deepened appreciation of this important holiday. Wishing you all a great Memorial Day Weekend!

For more information about the history of Memorial Day check out these links: celebrate and history.