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Memorial Day was created as a way to honor American soldiers who died while serving our country. Most people spend the day outside, enjoying the summer sun with BBQ and family. While that’s a great way to spend a day off work, it’s important to remember and recognize why we have the day off in the first place: those who have given everything for our freedom. In honor of this special holiday, here are some interested facts about the history of Memorial Day. Enjoy the day off, but remember to remember those who gave it to us as well.
1. Memorial Day began as a response to the Civil War.
Both sides of the war experienced so many losses, that spontaneous commemorations of the fallen popped up throughout the country. Eventually, it became an organized celebration.
2. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.
For a long time, Americans referred to the holiday as Decoration Day thanks to the practice of decorating graves with flowers, flags, and wreaths. It wasn’t until 1967 that the holiday was legally named Memorial Day.
3. General John A. Logan founded the holiday.
While America was still unofficially decorating graves, Union General John A. Logan of Carbondale, Illinois, claims founding rights of the holiday by declaring it an official day of remembrance.
4. Memorial Day was originally celebrated on May 30.
When General John A. Logan founded the holiday, he chose the date of May 30. According to legend, this is because May 30 was not the anniversary date of any major Civil War battles. It wasn’t until 1971 that the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May.
5. It’s legally required to observe a National Moment of Remembrance.
In 2000, a law was passed requiring all Americans to pause at 3:00 pm local time to remember and honor the fallen.
6. Several states observe Confederate Memorial Day.
While most previously Confederate states observe both the National Memorial Day and their own Confederate Memorial Day on differing dates, Virginia celebrates both on the same day.
7. CrossFit gyms across the globe celebrate Memorial Day with a workout called “Murph,” which honors fallen soldier Michael P. Murphy.
Lt. Michael P. Murphy was killed in combat in 2005 after he exposed himself to the enemy in an attempt to get a clear signal to request support for the rest of his team. In honor of his sacrifice, and to honor all others before and after, all CrossFits gyms perform his favorite workout, now renamed “Murph.”