10 Memorial Day Facts To Put The Holiday In Perspective
Colorado Visiting Nurse Association remembers and honors the many military personnel who gave their lives in service to our country. We are a leading medical partner of the local VA to promote the health and wellness of all veterans. We are also a proud member of We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs that aims to accompany and guide veterans through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending.
Memorial Day isn’t just an excuse to take a long weekend and loaf around eating grilled meats—although those are certainly among the reasons to love the holiday. Memorial Day is the day that Americans commemorate those who gave their lives while serving in our nation’s armed forces.
Before taking off to enjoy the holiday, here are
10 Memorial Day Facts To Put The Holiday In Perspective:
1. Memorial Day wasn’t originally called Memorial Day. It was originally named Decoration Day. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers to remember them and their sacrifice on the battlefield.
2. Originally, Memorial Day was designated to honor Civil War dead. Later it was changed to honor all Americans who had given their lives in the service of the country.
3. The first Decoration Day took place about one month after the end of the Civil War in 1865. In several states, the practice of placing flowers on the graves began in 1866. Although several towns lay claim to the holiday, in 1966, Waterloo, NY was designated the official birthplace of the holiday.
4. It is legally required to observe a National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the act designating 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day as a National Moment of Remembrance.
5. Despite the many different Memorial Day customs, there are two common traditions observed everywhere:
- The first is lowering the flag to half mast until noon and raising it to full mast until sundown.
- The other tradition is playing Taps (as is done at military funerals).
6. Several Southern states also celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. The date of the celebration is different from state to state although most Southern states celebrate in either April or May.
7. Calling Memorial Day a “national holiday“ is a bit of a misnomer. While there are 10 federal holidays created by Congress—including Memorial Day—they apply only to Federal employees and the District of Columbia. Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allowed Civil War veterans, many of whom were drawing a government paycheck, to honor their fallen comrades without being docked a day’s pay. For the rest of us, our holidays were enacted state by state.
8. May 30th was originally designated for the commemoration of Memorial Day. The 30th of May was chosen since this was a day that flowers all over the country were in bloom. Since then the date has been changed to the last Monday of May, and 2016 is only the 7th time Memorial Day has been celebrated on May 30th since it was changed in 1971.
9. The first large federal observance occurred at Arlington in 1868. After the war, the former home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee became a cemetery to bury the nation’s dead. During a ceremony, children of the Soldier’s and Sailors’ Home and members of the Grand Army of the Republic walked through the cemetery singing hymn and reciting poetry while strewing flowers on the graves, reports Veterans Affairs.
10. There have been approximately 1,243,980 American casualties of War or Military Action since the Civil War.
Civil War – Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.
How do you plan to honor our fallen service members as you celebrate the Memorial Day holiday?