by Ed Farmer, Staff Attorney
Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in 1868 as a way to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. Never before had so many American soldiers died in battle, and as a result, the national cemetery began to be formed. On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to decorate the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. After World War I, it became known as Memorial Day and changed from honoring those who died in the Civil War to those fallen in any war. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Unfortunately, over time the true meaning of Memorial Day has been forgotten in place of pool parties and BBQs.