Memorial Day is a day to commemorate all those men and women who died during their service in the military forces of the United States. It is also known among people as Decoration Day. There were debates regarding what city should be called a birthplace of this holiday. Finally, Waterloo, New York, was officially declared to be such place in 1966. However, even though some facts are known about the origins of the day, it is difficult to say about its true history.
So, despite the fact that the place and date of the holiday’s origin remain unclear, one thing is known for sure: the holiday is an attempt to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. The name Decoration Day is connected to one historical fact. In May, 1868, the commander of the Republic army, General John Logan, issues an order to decorate the graves of soldiers who passed away during the Civil War with flowers. He proclaimed that in such way all those people who gave their lives for liberty will be commemorated. Considering the fact that the day chosen for this event was not dedicated to any anniversary or any battle, it was proclaimed to be a Decoration Day.
After the speech of the General on that day, more than 5,000 participants of the event decorated the burial places of more than 20,000 soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first city to recognize Memorial Day as a holiday was New York. After that, during the period from 1873 till 1890, all the northern states started celebrating it as a national holiday. Interestingly, the southern states had their own day for commemorating their soldiers who died during the Civil War and the World War I. After the horrible war, the day was dedicated to honoring all the American soldiers who died for their country instead of just those soldiers who died during the Civil War.
The last Monday of May is now considered the day of celebrating Memorial Day in the USA. It was officially declared by the Congress in 1971. However, some southern states, such as, for example, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, etc. have also established separate days to honor soldiers of Confederate army who gave their lives during Civil War.
Red poppies are considered to be a symbol of a day. It was an idea of a Moina Michael, American professor, to use poppies as a reminder of those military men and women who died during war. Moreover, she was the first one to wear this symbol and sell poppies to raise money for military men.
After that, the tradition spread to Europe and became the basis for creation of the Franco-American Children’s League, which is a charity organization that collects money for children and wives of those soldiers who died during their service in military forces.
Later, other organizations and programs for helping veterans were established with “Buddy” Poppy program being one of it. Selling poppies became a tradition and Moina Michael became a savior for many veterans who suffered from horrors of war.