All wars matter: The real history of Memorial Day

To many Americans, Memorial Day has always been the unofficial start of summer. It's a three-day weekend filled with family, barbeque, and great times. Just like any other holiday, however, the origins of Memorial Day are more solemn than sweet.

The holiday began after the Civil War

The Civil War ended in 1865, leaving more fatalities than any other hostility in US history. An estimated 620,000 Americans were left lifeless in piles like dirty laundry. Bones were left floating in waters like sticks.

Black citizens decided to commemorate the dead by marching with baskets filled with thousands of flowers. Over time, different groups of Americans began holding their own rituals each spring for memorialization.

Its first known title was "Decoration Day" because graves were decorated with flowers (and flags in some areas). In 1971, after World War I, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday to honor all slain Americas who died in wars. Although it was originally dedicated to honor Civil War heroes.

April showers bring May flowers

Long before the holiday had its memorable name, its traditions were set in stone. In May of 1868, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic declared that the holiday should be observed at the end of May. He chose the date partly so that the holiday wouldn't fall on the same date as any battle. Many believe that the date was chosen because flowers are blooming all around America in May.

Regardless of its origins, Memorial Day has become a day of peace and celebration in America. It's often the first celebration of summer for many families. Memorial Day is a great day to reflect on and celebrate the lives of all of those who have sacrificed their lives for this country.

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