Just the Facts
Five Facts on Memorial Day
By Emma Petasis
May 22, 2019 | Blog
As Memorial Day approaches, No Labels wants to honor those who served our country with five facts on Memorial Day.
1. Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday of May.
Memorial Day was originally celebrated every May 30. Due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Washington’s Birthday have all been established as “always-on-Monday” holidays in order to provide long weekends to observe.
2. Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War.
Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day.” The observance began in May 1867, when General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, ordered that May 30 would be a commemoration of the over 600,000 people who lost their lives in the recently ended Civil War.
3. “Decoration Day” originally only commemorated those killed in just the Civil War.
Once America entered into World War I, the holiday was expanded to commemorate those killed in all U.S. Wars. It did not become a federal holiday until 1971, when the U.S. was deeply involved in the Vietnam War, and begun being celebrated nationwide.
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4. Memorial Day honors those who died in any war serving with the U.S. This day honors over 1 million U.S. War casualties.
Civil War: Approximately 620,000 with half the result of disease.
World War I: 116,516, more than half from disease.
World War II: 405,399
Korean War: 36,574
Vietnam Conflict: 58,220
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 383
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,410
Operation New Dawn: 73
Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,347.
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel: 69 as of May 2019.
Operation Inherent Resolve: 76 as of May 2019.
5. The red poppy remains a symbol of remembrance.
In 1915, Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCraw wrote about the sight of bright red flowers covering a battle ground and the soldiers who lay beneath. That same year, a campaign to make the poppy the symbol of tribute to those who lost their lives began and remains a symbol of remembrance on Memorial Day to this day.