May 302005

Decoration Day

Decoration Day

Today, Memorial Day, is the day my Grandma Hazel always calls Decoration Day.  That’s obviously a name that pre-dates me, so I thought I’d look it up today and figure out what it originally stood for and when the switch happened.

According to Wikipedia, the holiday originally called Decoration Day was first observed in 1868 to honor fallen Union solidiers of the Civil War.  As you can imagine, southern states didn’t really recognize the holiday until at least 50 years later, and many continue even today to have a separate Confederate Decoration Day (now Confederate Memorial Day or somewhat disturbingly Confederate Heroes Day in Texas) for years.  After World War I, the day came to honor all American soldiers who died in war.

The name Memorial Day was first used in 1882 but didn’t really take hold until after World War II, finally becoming the official federal name for the day in 1967.  The holiday became an official national holiday in 1971.

Excited by this?  Just wait for this fall’s Veteran’s Day, also Remembrance Day or Armistice Day.