Memorial Day Fun Facts
On Memorial Day, and every day, we will always remember what our veterans have sacrificed for us to life freely. Here are some fun facts about this timeless holiday…
- Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day meant to honor the Union and the Confederate soldiers who died during the American Civil War. By the 1900s it had become a day to celebrate all American soldiers who died while serving in the military. It wasn’t until 1967 that it was legally named Memorial Day.
- Congress passed a law in 2000 that requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3pm on Memorial Day to remember and to honor those who have died serving the United States. President Clinton signed this action.
- The flag is supposed to be flown at half-mast until noon, and then raised to full mast until sunset on Memorial Day.
- The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day originated from John McCrae’s 1915 poem In Flanders Fields. In Canada they wear red poppies to honor their soldiers on Remembrance Day in November each year.
- Although not as popular today, one tradition was to eat a picnic meal while sitting on the ground of a cemetery. There are still some people in the rural areas of the South that continue to practice this tradition.
- There were more American lives lost during the Civil War then the two World Wars combined. Approximately 620,000 died during the Civil War while approximately 116,516 died in World War I and approximately 405,399 died in World War II.
- There are more than 300,000 fallen soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. On average, there are 28 burials there each day.
- Several towns claim to be the originators of Memorial Day but in 1966, Congress declared Waterloo, New York, to be the birthplace of the holiday.
- Here are the number of casualties in each U.S. war: Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.World War I: 116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.
World War II: 405,399 Americans died.
Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.
Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died. More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 148 U.S. battle deaths and 145 non-battle deaths.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,422 U.S. service members died.
Operation New Dawn: 66 U.S. service members died.
Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,318 U.S. service members have died as of May 12, 2014.
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