10 Facts About Memorial Day That You May Not Know
Memorial Day began as a tribute to the 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. Today Memorial Day honors all American soldiers who died while serving in the military.
- Waterloo, NY was officially recognized in 1966 by Congress as the “birthplace of Memorial Day”. It began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Other towns claim this designation including Boalsburg, PA, Vicksburg, MS, and Carbondale, IL.
- Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags. It wasn’t until after WWII that the original name disappeared. A federal law declared “Memorial Day” the official name in 1967.
- Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day. However, Veterans Day honors all United States military veterans, while Memorial Day honors the soldiers who died while serving.
- Memorial Day was historically observed on May 30 until 1971 when the Monday Holiday Law shifted Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in the month of May.
- Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971.
- There are more than 300,000 fallen soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. On average, there are 28 burials there each day.
- Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is played at all military funerals and memorial services. It originated in 1862 when Union General Dan Butterfield “grew tired of the ‘lights out’ call sounded at the end of each day,” according to The Washington Post. Together with the brigade bugler, Butterfield made some changes to the tune.
- It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.
- The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1922, by Supreme Court Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft.
- In 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3pm in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3pm “is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.”
Grateful to Those Who Serve
All of us at the Mitchell Agency are forever grateful to those Americans who have given their lives for our freedom. We are also very thankful for those who are serving our country today in the armed forces.