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Memorial Day 2024 – What You Need to Know

This year, Memorial Day is on Monday, May 27. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States dedicated to honouring and mourning the military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. From 1868 to 1970, it was commemorated on May 30. Since 1971, it has been observed on the last Monday of May.

Memorial Day: What It Means

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a federal holiday in the United States dedicated to honouring and mourning U.S. military personnel who died while serving their country. This tradition dates back to the Civil War and has evolved over time.

The holiday originated from local observances for soldiers with neglected gravesites. One of the earliest recorded observances took place in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865, when Black residents held a parade and commemorative event for deceased Union prisoners. Another early event was held in Columbus, Mississippi, on April 25, 1866, where women decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers with flowers.

Memorial Day 2024

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On May 5, 1868, the tradition of placing flowers on veterans’ graves was formalized by an organization of Union veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic, which established Decoration Day.

The first large observance took place at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1873, presided over by General Ulysses S. Grant. Originally, the holiday only honoured Civil War soldiers, but after World War I, it expanded to honour all Americans who died in military service.

Despite conflicting claims about its origins, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day on May 30, 1966. This declaration followed the tradition in Waterloo of closing businesses and lowering flags at half-staff to honour local veterans on May 5, 1866.

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Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, which was influenced by U.S. Representative John A. Logan’s belief that the holiday should occur when flowers are in full bloom.

Congress made May 30 a holiday in the District of Columbia in 1888. In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance Act was signed into law, encouraging Americans to pause for a minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

Today, Memorial Day is also seen as the unofficial start of summer, with many Americans travelling, attending parades, and participating in outdoor activities.

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Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.