Memorial Day - May 26th 2008 / May 25th 2009
Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday of May each year in honor of U.S. military personnel who have died during military service. A day for this purpose first took place in Charleston after the Civil War in 1865 when freed slaves created a cemetery as a way to remember fallen Union soldiers. It wasn’t until after World War I that the federal holiday honored all fallen military personnel for any war.
Shortly after on May 30th 1868, the holiday was designated Decoration Day after freed slaves returned to place flowers on the graves of the Union soldiers, though by 1866 fallen Confederate soldiers were also being recognized. For many years afterward May 30th served as the official day for Decoration Day/Memorial Day until it was changed in 1968 to the third Monday of May.
The name Memorial Day began being used in 1882, however the holiday name wasn’t officially changed until 1967. Because of its origination, many states in the South at first rejected Decoration Day and wouldn’t recognize it. However, slowly the holiday was accepted by every state and remains so today. It is tradition to mark the holiday by flying the national flag at half mast and numerous memorial ceremonies held throughout the U.S. Another Memorial Day tradition since 1911 has been the Indianapolis 500 race.