Give someone an extra day off of work, and suddenly there are questions.  Obviously, “why” isn’t one of them.  Who the heck questions a day off work?  No, these questions are about Memorial Day.  And, lucky for you, I’ve got ALL the answers right here in this blog!  Aren’t you glad you came to today?

Q: What day is Memorial Day observed?

A: The last Monday in May

  • On May 5, 1868, Army General John Logan was credited for starting this national holiday shortly after the American Civil War Between the States. He set it to be observed on May 30 of each year. It was not until 1971 that we began recognizing Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.

Q: Memorial Day had another name.  What was it?

A: Decoration Day

  • At the beginning, it was called, “Decoration Day” because the purpose of it was to visit cemeteries and place flowers on graves of fallen loved ones who had died in the Civil War. In 1882, many people began calling it “Memorial Day”. After World Wars I and II, it became accepted as a day to remember all of our military men and women who died, not just those from the Civil War era. A Federal law was passed in 1987 officially acknowledging the name of the holiday as “Memorial Day”. Veterans’ Day is observed in the month of November.

Q: Memorial Day weekend has been called the “most dangerous holiday.”  Why?

A: Car accidents

  • Unfortunately, many vehicle accidents take place during this holiday weekend. Many people are traveling and due to a lot of congested traffic, accidents are unavoidable. It is always important to wear your seat belt when traveling. The State Highway Patrol began a national campaign called, “Click It or Ticket”, which starts during this busy holiday season each year. Other safety-related accidents do occur and that is why it is important that we give the gift of life, our blood. Why not ask a family member to donate blood this holiday. They may help save someone’s life by doing so.

Q: Which southern state first celebrated Memorial Day as a federal holiday?

A: Mississippi

  • Because of hostile resentment towards the north after the end of the war, many U.S. southern states decided not to celebrate Decoration Day in 1868. The only state to comply was Mississippi. In the small town of Columbus on April 25, 1866, the people embraced both the Union and Confederate casualties that were buried in its cemetery. This tradition is still carried on today in Mississippi; whether they wore blue or gray, they are all honored for their supreme sacrifice.

Q: What northern state?

A: New York

  • The holiday officially became standard in New York in 1873. It became a symbol of growth in honoring those who gave their all by the remaining northern states by 1890. The South, with the exception of Mississippi, honored their dead on separate days until after World War I.

Q: Where is the official birthplace of Memorial Day?

A: Waterloo, New York

  • Many communities have boasted and claimed the creation of the holiday. Even the southern states have evidence that it began there. However, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation on May 26, 1966 that Waterloo, New York was the official birthplace. It was the first village to observe the sacred day on May 5, 1866 publicly and each year thereafter. There is no way to prove the origin of the holiday, but the whole human race in general contributed to the honor of our dead and that is what is important about Memorial Day.

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