I remember as a young girl, my mom would tell me, “You were born on traditional Memorial Day.” She said that due to the fact that Memorial Day used to be May 30. (And that day just so happens to be my birthday.)
But then, the government decided to make it a federal holiday, and employees got a new 3 day weekend to add to their calendar. Thus, the last Monday in May officially became Memorial Day.
Even before that, Memorial Day was known by another name. It was called “Decoration Day”. And if you are over the age of 50, you remember what that day meant.
My grandmother tells me that she grew up observing Decoration Day. And, as her father was a vet of the Spanish American War, and her brothers were vets of WWII, well, it meant something.
So, just what was Decoration Day? Glad you asked:
Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings. Quite a few cities and towns actually claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. But it’s hard to tell the origin.
Women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. And there is actually a hymn (published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet) that was dedicated “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (source see: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).
While Waterloo N.Y. won the honored position as declared birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove the real origins of the day.
And there you have it.
For more info (I know who you folks are!) here’s a source:
Memorial Day
Wishing you a happy Memorial Day. And well, a very happy birthday to me.