- This event has passed.
Monday. The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials of soldiers that have passed away, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.