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History & Biography 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May to commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service. 

Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as the holiday was originally named.  In 1966, Congress declared Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of Memorial Day.  On May 5, 1866, Waterloo held a ceremony to honor the war dead with flags at half-mast, music and ceremonies to decorate soldiers' graves. 

In 1868, Major General John A. Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, established May 30 as a time to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  The first national celebration of Decoration Day was held on May 30, 1868, in Arlington National Cemetery.  After World War I, the holiday was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.  In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress. 

In 2000, Congress passed and the president signed into law "The National Moment of Remembrance Act" which encourages Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to honor those who have died in the service of the nation.

These websites have more information about the history and traditions of Memorial Day:

Memorial Day History and Resources from the Department of Veterans Affairs

National Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day History from the Library of Congress

The Missouri Veterans Commission will hold Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday at the Springfield Veterans Cemetery and at other state veterans cemeteries.  The Springfield National Cemetery Memorial Day ceremony is on Monday at 10:00 a.m. 


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