The Origins of Memorial Day

Memorial Day has its roots in the springtime observances that began immediately after the end of the Civil War in towns throughout the war-torn country, according to the VA. The first nationwide Decoration Day—a day to honor the dead by decorating their graves with flowers and bunting—was held on May 30, 1868, with its first official observance at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I, Decoration Day expanded to recognize fallen service members of all U.S. wars, but not until 1971 was Memorial Day declared a national holiday.

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