Facts about Memorial Day
- Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
- Decoration Day was suggested by General John A Logan, leader of a civil war veterans’ association. The first Decoration Day was held on 30th May, 1868. The reason for this choice was that no battle had taken place on this day.
- Today’s participants would have recognized some of the common celebrations of Memorial Day. One the first ever Decoration Day, there were speeches and soldiers’ graves were decorated.
- By 1890, each northern state was marking Decoration Day as an official state holiday; celebrations took place on different days in the southern states.
- The origins of Memorial Day go back to the Civil War, when more lives were lost than in any other war in US history.
- Waterloo, New York, which held its first celebrations of the day in 1866, was named the birthplace of Memorial Day by the federal government.
- Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day and was gradually extended to include all American military personnel who had died in different wars.
- Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th for almost a century. The date changed to the last Monday in May following the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968.
- The day became a federal holiday in 1971.
- Some of the biggest Memorial Day parades are in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York.
- Poppy wearing originates with John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields poem.
- An additional observance on Memorial Day is the moment of remembrance, a minute of silence at 3PM local time on Memorial Day. This became law in 2000.
- 101 Years: The number of years the Indianapolis 500 has run in conjunction with Memorial Day.
- The start of summer: What Memorial Day signifies to many people. Americans celebrate with barbecues, picnics, and trips to the lake or beach.
- Dinner on the Ground: A picnic meal eaten in a cemetery while sitting on the ground. Rural areas of the American South still practice this tradition on Memorial Day.
- 620,000: The number of men who died in the Civil War. The appalling number of deaths is what inspired Americans to honor the dead and create the beginnings of Memorial Day.
- About BBQs (of course! It’s memorial day!) Here’s how the main dish ranks bbq-wise– Americans make hamburgers 87% of the time, steak 83%, chicken 78%, and hot dogs at 76%. What about the veggie eats?
- Monday (Memorial Day) is also National Hamburger Day.
In Flanders Field
"IN FLANDERS FIELDS THE POPPIES BLOW
BETWEEN THE CROSSES, ROW ON ROW,
THAT MARK OUR PLACE; AND IN THE SKY
THE LARKS, STILL BRAVELY SINGING, FLY
SCARCE HEARD AMID THE GUNS BELOW.
WE ARE THE DEAD. SHORT DAYS AGO
WE LIVED, FELT DAWN, SAW SUNSET GLOW,
LOVED AND WERE LOVED, AND NOW WE LIE,
IN FLANDERS FIELDS.
TAKE UP OUR QUARREL WITH THE FOE:
TO YOU FROM FAILING HANDS WE THROW
THE TORCH; BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH.
IF YE BREAK FAITH WITH US WHO DIE
WE SHALL NOT SLEEP, THOUGH POPPIES GROW
IN FLANDERS FIELDS."