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.

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