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5 Little Known Facts About Memorial Day for Classroom Trivia

5 Little Known Facts About Memorial Day for Classroom Trivia

Use these little known facts about Memorial Day and the related resources below to best teach about the holiday in your classroom. 

The Exact Origin of the Holiday Is Attributed to 25 Different Places

It’s unclear exactly where Memorial Day originated as a tradition, but in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson went ahead and picked a place to be the official spot.

"In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the ‘birthplace' of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

May 30 Became the Beginning of Memorial Day in 1868

General Logan set aside May 30, 1868 "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

It wasn’t until a whole century later that Memorial Day became an official national holiday (1971), meaning that people were able to keep the tradition going on their own for years and years.

Southern States Celebrate Confederate Memorial Day

Several Southern states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on different days in the spring season to remember those who fought for the Confederate State in the Civil War. Many states even close state offices when observing the tradition.

Due to the controversy over celebrating the confederacy and its flag due to the racism attached to its meaning dating back to the civil war and the fight to free the slaves, many Southern states have been forced to change their traditions accordingly.

In Georgia, for example, Confederate Memorial Day was changed this year to simply “State Memorial Day.”

"Most state employees will still take Monday off, but they will no longer officially be memorializing the South’s casualties. That’s because Gov. Nathan Deal last year struck Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday from the state’s official holiday calendar, replacing them with the less controversial nomenclature,” said AJC.com. 

Teaching students about this makes them aware of the constant changes to tradition that make celebrations a growing process every year.

Law Requires a Moment of Observance Every Memorial Day at 3 P.M.

According to TIME Magazine, Congress passed a law back in 2000 requiring that all Americans pause at 3 p.m. on the day to observe the country’s fallen soldiers.

"But this doesn’t appear to be common knowledge, or if it is, by 3 p.m. most people seem to be too deep into a hot dog-induced food coma to officially observe the moment,” TIME said.

A Teacher Helped the Red Poppy Become a Symbol of Remembrance

"In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for 'keeping the faith with all who died.’ The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” said MentalFloss.com.

The symbol not only stands as a symbol for Memorial Day, but also for international events of remembrance as well.

Let the trivia begin!

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

 

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