Besides marking the unofficial start of summer, the great barbecues, and picnics, Memorial Day has quite a bit of history behind it.
Before you head out to the beach or to whatever event you have planned for the day, the National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.
As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
Here are five more factoids about Memorial Day according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website:
1. The first large observance was held in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
2. The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
3. 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.
4. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
5. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.