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We Honor our Veterans on Memorial Day

by Martha Walker, Nauticus Curator

Honoring our nation’s military veterans is an old American tradition. The national holiday honoring veterans who died in our nation’s wars here and abroad, was originally known as Decoration Day. Early in the Civil War, women’s groups, both–Confederate and Union–assumed responsibilities for decorating the graves of those who died in battle.

After the loss of more than 600,000 soldiers on both sides, and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, memorialization of gravesites and monuments with flowers and other tributes became a national cultural tradition.

Decoration Day was formally acknowledged in a proclamation by General John A. Logan on May 30, 1868.

Memorial Day occurs every year on the last Monday in May and was established as a federal holiday in 1971.