- Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
- Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. This date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
- In 1915 Moina Michael wrote a poem about war. She then came up with an idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.
- On Memorial Day, the flag should be at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
- “Taps” is often played at ceremonies on Memorial Day.
- New York was the 1st state to officially recognize Memorial Day.
- Flowers and flags are the two most popular items people use to remember soldiers.
- The south refused to honor the dead on Memorial Day until after World War I when the meaning of Memorial Day changed from honoring civil war dead to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
- Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday in 1971.
Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. It was observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration. After World War I, Memorial Day was changed from honoring civil war dead to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. See the fact file below for more information on Memorial Day.