Memorial Day 2022: when is it and what is it?

Memorial Day 2022 will be on Monday, May 30, and many in the United States will gather to celebrate with the day off. As people are preparing for a barbecue or a pool party, many may be interested in learn more about the meaning of the day, its origin and the dark nature of the commemoration.

Most historians believe the Memorial Day celebration began during or just after the Civil War. The first locality to begin celebrating is unknown, but it is understood that the tradition began as a way to honor soldiers who died in war.

Memorial Day and the American Civil

The Civil War in the United States, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, was the bloodiest in the country’s history. With all victims belonging to the United States, estimates range from over 600,000 to one million casualties, including 50,000 civilian deaths.

Some historians trace the origins of the festival to women who decorated the graves of soldiers who died during the American Civil War. These efforts have been described as dismal and have led women’s organizations like the Ladies’ Memorial Association to establishing other holidays to commemorate the efforts of the South and the Confederacy more broadly. Today, three states, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina celebrate Confederate Memorial Day as a holiday. Other states, including Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee, also have a day to commemorate the Confederation, but state offices remain open.

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World War II veteran Darrell Bush places a flower with his wife at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.Alex BrandonAFP

According to Veterans Administrationin 1869, the Grand Army of the Republican organization made up of Union veterans, created “decoration day” as a day to decorate the graves of those who died during the Civil War. The date of May 30 was chosen because it was believed that “flowers would bloom all over the land. Doylestown, Pennsylvania has the longest Memorial Day parade since 1868.

Federal holiday status

The expansion of Memorial Day to celebrate military deaths in all wars only happened after First World War. Until 1971, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30, however, it was one of four federal holidays included in the Uniform Monday Leave Act. The four public holidays included in this law have been moved to Mondays to create a three-day weekend.

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