Are you planning to celebrate Memorial Day this year? Held annually on May 30, Memorial Day is an important holiday. It’s designed to commemorate and mourn the U.S. military servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives during service. While you may know the purpose of Memorial Day, though, there are several myths and misconceptions about this holiday you shouldn’t believe.
It’s Always Been Known as Memorial Day
Before it was known as Memorial Day, this important holiday was known as Decoration Day. Decoration Day is a reference to the practice of decorating the graves of fallen servicemen and servicewomen with flowers. On Decoration Day, millions of Americans would visit veterans’ graves where they would leave behind flowers. While Decoration Day is now known as Memorial Day, the practice of decorating graves with flowers continues.
Originated After World War I
Some people assume that Memorial Day originated shortly after World War I. It’s estimated that over 117,000 Americans died during World War I. At the end of the war, citizens would honor them on May 30. But Memorial Day has been around long before World War I. In the mid-1800s, General John Logan designated May 30 as Decoration Day. Decoration Day, of course, would later become known as Memorial Day.
Marks the Official Beginning of Summer
Memorial Day has become synonymous with summer. Many people recognize Memorial Day as the official beginning of summer. Memorial Day, though, actually marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Officially speaking, summer always begins on the longest day of the year. This is known as the Summer Solstice. The official beginning of summer for 2022 is June 21, whereas Memorial Day is May 30.
Washington DC Was the First City to Celebrate It
Another common myth is that Memorial Day was first celebrated in Washington D.C. In reality, no one knows which city was the first to celebrate Memorial Day. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs says that over two dozen cities claim to have been the first.
Exclusive to the US
You may assume that Memorial Day is exclusive to the United States. After all, it originated in the United States and has since become recognized as a federal holiday. But there are other countries that have a similar holiday. New Zealand, for instance, celebrates Memorial Day, whereas Canada celebrates a similar holiday known as Victoria Day.
See the full list of United States flag holidays.