The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. We should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom.
Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
We mourn the loss while honoring the sacrifice of those brave heroes.