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Observed on the last Monday of May, this United States federal holiday was formerly known as Decoration Day. It commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country.
In 1868, U.S. General John Logan issued an official order to place flowers on graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery and the practice soon spread to cemetaries in all the northern states. Southern states observed a different day for their Civil War casualties and several states still have a separate day honoring Confederate soldiers.
The day honoring soldiers who died during the American Civil War was expanded after World War I to include those who died in any war or military action.
Memorial Day is oten observed by visiting cemeteries and memorials, and decorating gravesites with flowers. Volunteers place U.S. flags upon each gravesite in national or military cemeteries. The U.S. flag is flown at half-staff from dawn until noon local time in many locations.
Waterloo, New York
In 1966, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and President Lyndon Johnson visited Waterloo, New York and proclaimed it the birthplace of Memorial Day. Iit held nation's first civic Memorial Day celebration in 1886, when the town's flags were flown at half-staff and villagers marched to local cemeteries to drape in black the graves of soldiers slain in the Civil War.
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