TIME Memorial Day

The Origins Of Memorial Day

A look at the origins of the national holiday.

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been a nationally recognized holiday; but what are its origins?

Besides all the traveling and barbecuing that has become a mainstay of this three-day-weekend, at its core Memorial Day is a direct response to the aftermath of the American Civil War, a callback to both sides decorating the graves of their dead.

Waterloo, N.Y. was named the birthplace of Memorial day, but many other towns still contest for that title to this day.

For more than 40 years, Memorial Day has been officially celebrated on the last Monday of May.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team