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9 Little-Known Facts About the History of Memorial Day

Trace the history of America's national day of remembrance.

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

1. Memorial Day began as a day honoring Union soldiers killed during the Civil War.

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  • Aftermath of the Civil War

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

2. Some Southern states still have a separate day of remembrance for Confederate soldiers.

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  • Presidents of Ladies Memorial Association.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3. The original date of ‘Decoration Day’ was May 30, chosen because it was not associated with any particular battle.

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  • 1870 Decoration Day parade in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

4. The tradition of red poppies honoring fallen soldiers comes from a Canadian poem written during WWI.

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

5. The Vietnam War was responsible for Memorial Day becoming a national holiday.

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  • A wounded solider being carried away during the Vietnam War in 1968.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

6. Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit that brings attention to prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action, holds a rally every Memorial Day.

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  • The annual ride by Rolling Thunder as it crosses the Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

7. Although many towns claim to have been the birthplace of Memorial Day, Waterloo, New York is officially recognized as the first to commemorate the day.

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  • Waterloo Downtown Historic District.

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

8. Congress passed a law in 2000 that requires Americans to stop what they're doing at 3:00 P.M. to observe the holiday.

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  • Photo Credit: United States Department of Defense

9. American flags are requested to be flown half-staff until noon on Memorial Day.

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons