Five interesting facts about Memorial Day

Lizzy Partsch, Staff Writer

On Memorial Day, celebrated on Monday, May 29, people raised their red, white, and blue, grilled their favorite barbecue and honored the many courageous and brave veterans across the country.

Thousands of veterans have served in wars past, including Vietnam, Korean Conflict, WW1 WW2, etc., and currently in Afghanistan, but the origin of the widely celebrated holiday is quite unclear.

Here are five interesting facts about Memorial Day.

  1. Memorial Day first originated during the Civil War.
    • In 1864, women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania put flowers on the graves of dead soldiers, just after the Battle of Gettysburg was fought. A year later, women from Vicksburg, Mississippi also did the same thing. This tradition seemed to both appear throughout the Civil War among women of both Confederate and Union soldiers.
    • Waterloo, New York then began holding annual community service to honor those who had. fallen, originally making Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day.
  2. It was first named “Decoration Day.”
    • “Memorial Day” was actually first known as “Decoration Day” for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, flags, and other decorations, until 1967 when “Decoration Day” was officially renamed “Memorial Day.”
  3. Memorial Day actually has its own customs.
    • It is customary to fly the flag at half staff until noon and then raise it to the top until it reaches sunset.
    • Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is usually played at all military funeral and memorial services, which first originated when Union General Dan Butterfield got tired of the “lights out call sounded at the end of each day.”
    • Red artificial poppies are traditionally worn on Memorial Day. This was actually inspired by John McCrea’s WW1 poem “In Flanders Fields,” but was first started by Georgia teacher Moina Michael who began a campaign to make poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans.
  4. There is still a gray Memorial Day to honor Confederate soldiers.
    • To this day, several southern states continue to set aside a day to appreciate many Confederate soldiers, also known as Confederate Memorial Day. It is celebrated in several different states at different times during the year, such as: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
  5. Around 39.3 million Americans were expected to travel this Memorial Day.
    • Every year, AAA tends to predict the travel forecast for several different holidays, including Memorial Day, and even predicted that 39.3 million Americans would travel 50 miles or more from home. This is supposedly the highest rating since 2005!
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