In April of 1865, four years after it began, the American Civil War came to an end, and a tradition to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers began.

While many cities and individuals claimed to have been the first to celebrate the event, in 1868, General Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic called for a “Decoration Day”, which was widely celebrated. By 1890 every Northern state had adopted it as a holiday. The World Wars turned it into a generalized day of remembrance, instead of just for the Civil War. In 1971, Congress standardized the holiday as “Memorial Day” and changed its observance to to what we know it today.

So as we enjoy a day off and spend time with family and friends, take a moment to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by many who came before us to give us all that we have today. In case you have forgotten, here is a small list: American Revolutionary War – 50,000; War of 1812 – 20,000; Mexican American War – 17,435; Civil War – 750,000; WW1 – 320,518; and WW2 – 1,076,215.

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