by Arman Deganian
President, DeKalb Bar Association
As we approach one of our nation’s most solemn holidays, I like to take the time to reflect on the history of Memorial Day, and how we came to recognize it as a national holiday. The name itself seems fairly obvious, but how it came to be is a bit more complicated than I knew.
Memorial Day was initially called Decoration Day. Decoration Day began unofficially soon after the end of the Civil War. It is unclear when the holiday actually came to be, but a traditional day of visiting fallen soldiers’ graves began after the Civil War. Many cities claimed to have originated the holiday, including Macon and Columbus, Georgia, but in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson officially designated Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day considering that the first official Decoration Day took place in Waterloo on May 5, 1868.