When is Memorial Day 2023? Is it a national holiday?
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer as school wraps across the US and people enjoy the three-day weekend. But what is the origin of the holiday?
On Monday, May 29, 2023, Memorial Day will be observed in the United States. While many will enjoy the day off with BBQs and pool parties, some may also be curious to learn about the history and significance of this solemn occasion. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have served and honor their memory.
Many historians agree that Memorial Day originated during or shortly after the Civil War. Although it is unclear which specific location first began celebrating, the tradition was established as a means of honoring fallen soldiers.
Memorial Day and the American Civil
The Civil War in the US, which lasted from 1861 through 1865, is the bloodiest in the nation’s history. With all casualties belonging to the United States, estimates range from anywhere between 600,000 to one million casualties, including 50,000 civilian deaths.
Historians trace the holiday’s roots to many women who adorned the burial sites of soldiers who lost their lives during the American Civil War. These acts of remembrance were solemn in nature and inspired women’s groups like the Ladies’ Memorial Association to create other occasions to honor the South’s contributions and the Confederacy as a whole. Today three states, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, celebrate Confederate Memorial Day as a public holiday. Other states, including Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee, also have a day to commemorate the Confederacy, but state offices remain open.
According to the Veterans Administration, in 1869, the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization made up of Union veterans, established “Decoration Day” as a day to decorate the graves of those who had died in the Civil War. The date of 30 May was chosen as it was believed that “flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has the longest-running Memorial Day parade, which has taken place since 1868.
Federal Holiday Status
It wasn’t until after World War I that Memorial Day expanded to commemorate the fallen service members from all wars. Prior to 1971, Memorial Day was observed on May 30th. However, as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, it was included as one of four federal holidays that were moved to Mondays to create three-day weekends.