It’s hard to imagine what this country would look like without the sacrifices made throughout our history by the amazing men and women in our Armed Forces. To honor them, and the holiday established in their name, here are seven facts about Memorial Day you may not know:
1) The holiday began in 1866
The small town of Waterloo, New York, began the tradition of setting a day apart in May to honor its fallen. Just two years later, in 1868, a group of veterans Union soldiers proclaimed May 30th as a day devoted to honoring soldiers killed in battle, with the hope that such a day would be devoted to these war victims every year.
2) It was originally called Decoration Day
Since honoring fallen soldiers so frequently included decorating their graves with wreaths and flags, Decoration Day was the holiday’s name until federal law proclaimed it Memorial Day in 1967.
3) The Civil War remains the most casualty-filled war in American history
Approximately 625,000 soldiers from both the Union and Confederate sides were killed during the Civil War, making it by far the most casualty-filled war in our nation’s history.
4) There is an official “National Moment of Remembrance”
In 2000, the United States Congress passed a law ordering Americans to stop what they are doing at 3 PM and reflect upon the sacrifices made by the soldiers.
5) There are specific flag customs associated with the day
On Memorial Day, flags are to be flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to their complete flagpole height until sundown.
6) The bugle song ‘Taps’ came from France
This majestic, moving piece of music came to this country from France in the early 1800s. Now it is played at every military funeral in the land.
7) Memorial Day weekend is one of the top 10 busiest travel times of the year
Over 37 million Americans are expected to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend according to the AAA Motor Club, easily making this one of the busiest travel times of the year.
This Memorial Day, wherever you are, we hope that you and your loved ones get an opportunity to set apart some time to honor the spirit of this day, and remember the extraordinary sacrifices that have been made by America’s bravest defenders since this country’s birth. We are J.G. Wentworth, the largest purchaser of future structured settlement and annuity payments in the country, and we wish you and your loved ones a safe and memorable holiday.