Previously referred to as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is definitely one of the most important national holidays in the U.S. Before, people celebrate this day in honor of the brave and valiant Union soldiers who have died during the American Civil War. After World War I, the government expanded the scope of this event. It is now celebrated to honor and commemorate the bravery of all U.S. soldiers who have died after engaging in any kind of military activity or war. Here is a quick glance at history to learn when Memorial Day became a national holiday.
When did Memorial Day become a national holiday? It was John A. Logan, who was then commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, who made this all-important decision. He proclaimed Decoration Day as a national holiday on May 5th in 1868. Since then, this special day has been observed annually. The very first celebration took place on May 30th of that same year. For this occasion, people decorate the tombs of deceased soldiers of the Union.
In 1882, some people started to call this event Memorial Day instead of Decoration Day. It was widely used after World War II. The term became official under U.S. Federal law in 1967. On June 28th in 1968 the traditional celebration every 30th day of May was changed officially. It happened after the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by the U.S. Congress. Since then, this holiday is celebrated every last Monday of May instead of May 30th. This important change was made to make the celebration more convenient. In 1971, the Uniform Holidays Bill was implemented as a federal law.
Memorial Day is widely observed in the country. Amongst the many holidays, this one is widely observed because it is a mark that the summer season is about to start.
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People celebrate this special occasion differently. Many individuals visit memorials and cemeteries. They hold a special moment of remembrance all over the country at 3 p.m. In some places, people fly the U.S. flag halfway starting from dawn until noontime. At national cemeteries, some individuals decorate gravesites with small U.S. flags.
Some people find this occasion a perfect one for holding family events. They usually hold sporting events, special gatherings and picnics. In addition, families, relatives and friends can spend some time together. Other events held regularly in connection to this special holiday include the National Memorial Day Concert as well as the Indianapolis 500.