Stan Cromlish - Author and Historian

Tag Archives: American War Dead

What is Memorial Day all about? The History and the Facts

Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday of the month of May, began as a day to “decorate” the graves of both Northern and Southern Civil War dead with flowers in remembrance of their sacrifice. The bloody conflict had seen neighbor fighting neighbor and brother fighting brother, and for a long time afterward there was animosity between the two factions. Decoration Day is said to have begun in Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866 because the city had made it community wide event where the community’s citizens and businesses took part in decorating the graves and remembering the sacrifice of those Civil War and Revolutionary soldiers from their community. As early as 1861, there were less formal decoration days that were held in the spring every year to decorate with flowers and remember their sacrifice in the conflict. Those remembrances were held in Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and, Carbondale, Illinois during and after the Civil War.

Memorial Day is a day to “decorate” the graves of our war dead that number over one million men and women since the Revolutionary War which ultimately gave rise to the country we know and the freedoms we all enjoy. …

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