Memorial Day: A Brief History

A Brief History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is coming up quick, and although everyone revels in the day off, not many know what Memorial Day is truly about. Memorial Day is about honoring the men and women that have died in the military serving their country. Take some time this Memorial Day to pay tribute to the brave people that lost their lives for our freedom.

While you are enjoying your day off work, take some time to do a little self-care day. Address any body pains you’ve been having with the dpl® Nuve Professional Pain Relief Light Therapy Device, or any hand pains from spending too much time on the computer with the dpl® Flex Mitt, which is specifically designed for your hands.

First Celebrations

The Civil War in the mid 1800’s claimed more lives than any other conflict in US history. In the years following its end, soldiers started holding springtime memorials for their fallen friends. Even earlier than the American version of Memorial Day, there are records that the Greeks & Romans hosted similar events once per year.

One of the first Memorial Day celebrations was held in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865. It was actually organized by freed slaves and members of the U.S. Colored Troops. Their celebration and memorial looked nothing like ours does today, but they laid the path for our modern day Memorial Day.

In 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. They were given this title because every year the town would hold festivities in May that involved all businesses shutting down and the townspeople decorating the graves and streets with flowers and American flags.

Previously Called Decoration Day

Technically, Memorial Day was first Decoration Day. In 1868, General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance on May 30th. He wanted everyone to decorate streets, graves and homes with flowers and American flags for the purpose of remembering those who bravely lost their lives. Logan had served as a congressman before the war, and after the war he rejoined his political career, and served in the House and the Senate. He is one of just 33 people to be laid in state in the National Capitol rotunda after his death.

General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day, and more than 5,000 people came out to listen and decorate soldier’s graves. By 1890, most northern states had an official state holiday on the books called Decoration Day. It was not until after World War I that the southern states joined in on this celebration. That’s not to say that the south didn’t have their own celebrations, though. Some even say that Logan got the idea for Decoration Day from the south.

Transition to Memorial Day

Over the next 100 years, Decoration Day slowly became known as Memorial Day. It was originally intended to just honor those who were killed in the Civil War, but after World War I it was broadened to include anyone who had died fighting for our country.

Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th, the original day picked by General Logan, for many years. In 1968, though, the government passed a law establishing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, giving employees a three-day weekend.

Common Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day

Traditionally, many cities hold parades to honor the fallen. Washington D.C. & New York City boast some of the largest Memorial Day celebrations across the country. The parades typically feature members of the military and their families. Flags are hung at half-mast until noon, and then raised to the top. Bill Clinton signed a bill in 2000 encouraging Americans to pause and observe a National Moment of Remembrance. Several national organizations participate in this, including Major League Baseball, NASCAR & Amtrak, whose trains blast their whistles.

Many Americans visit graves on Memorial Day, whether they know someone who was killed or not. They’ll bring flowers and American flags in honor of those soldiers. Memorial Day has also become the unofficial mark of summer, meaning many Americans go on a three-day vacation, throw parties or officially open their backyard for summer over this weekend. Let’s explore some of the things you could do this Memorial Day.

  • Look Up Events in Your City. Almost every city in the country does something for Memorial Day. From parties to concerts to parades, there has to be something to do. Simply search Memorial Day with your city’s name & you’re bound to find tons of results.
  • Barbecue: Memorial Day is notorious for the first barbecue of the summer. Gather your friends and coworkers and get your grill ready. If you don’t have a grill at your house, you could host a barbecue at a local park that has a grill.
  • Spa Day: Although Memorial Day is a great weekend to get out into the sunshine and enjoy the first bit of summer, it’s also a great time to take an entire day to treating yourself. Line up your favorite spa products, from bath bombs to hair masks and get started. Don’t forget to use your reVive Light Therapy dpl® Nuve Pain Relief device to get rid of any aches and pains that have settled into you over the cold winter months.
  • Cook New Food: Since you have the time, try your hand at cooking something new. You can even get your entire family involved. Plan out an entire meal, do the grocery shopping (preferably before the Memorial Day crowds) and then get to cooking! Who knows, you may discover a family favorite!
  • Go on a Road Trip: Memorial Day is a fantastic time to go on a road trip. The cold winter months are behind us, and all that lies ahead for the next few months is sunshine. Head to the nearest beach, lake or mountains (whatever your preference is) & explore something new.

This year’s Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 28th. Take advantage of our Memorial Day Sale and enjoy 35% off site-wide through 5/29/2018. Use promo code MEMORIAL18.


Leave a Reply

Use FSA credits here. Contact us to learn more - Dismiss