Memorial Day originally called Decoration Day

Published 11:15 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

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A few weeks back I wrote a column about honoring our veterans. Maybe a little premature seeing that Memorial Day was right around the corner, or maybe not as the whole purpose of the column was to acknowledge veterans on more occasions than just national holidays.
Also earlier this year, I took a look at Valentine’s Day and its history. When sitting down to decide what to write this week, I figured what better than to acknowledge the men and women who serve our country one more time while also telling the story of how this holiday came to be.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Memorial Day was actually originally called Decoration Day and started as a way to commemorate the deceased after the civil war. Over two dozen towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but President Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the official birthplace in 1966. Officially declared a holiday on May 5, 1868, the first celebration of Memorial Day was held May 30th that year.
Through time it is said that most southern states refused to recognize the holiday until after World War II. Our much anticipated three-day weekend was not declared a federal holiday until 1971. Washington D.C held its first Memorial Day celebration in over 60 years in 2004, and now hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists parade through the city every year on the holiday to honor the fallen soldiers.
On Memorial Day, it is custom to fly the United States flag at half staff until noon and full staff for the rest of the day.
Sadly, it is reported that U.S. death tools for Memorial Weekend are higher than any other weekend.
It is important to tell our veterans how thankful we are for their service every day, and especially this weekend. I hope you will all join me in honoring them, and I wish you all a safe holiday weekend.

Brittany Fuller is the community editor of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. She can be reached at

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