Wakulla County Historical Society

"A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable." Thomas Jefferson

8 Things You May Not Know About Memorial Day

 

Follow us over the Memorial Holidays to learn 8 things you may not have known about Memorial Day….

Soldier saluting

iStockphotos.com

For nearly 150 years, Americans have gathered in late spring to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in service to their country. What began with dozens of informal commemorations of those killed in the Civil War has grown to become one of the nation’s most solemn and hallowed holidays. From its earliest incarnation as “Decoration Day” to its modern-day observances, check out some surprising facts about the history of Memorial Day.

1. Memorial Day and its traditions may have ancient roots.
While the first commemorative events weren’t held in the United States until the 19th century, the practice of honoring those who have fallen in battle dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans held annual days of remembrance for loved ones (including soldiers) each year, festooning their graves with flowers and holding public festivals and feasts in their honor. In Athens, public funerals for fallen soldiers were held after each battle, with the remains of the dead on display for public mourning before a funeral procession took them to their internment in the Kerameikos, one of the city’s most prestigious cemeteries. One of the first known public tributes to war dead was in 431 B.C., when the Athenian general and statesman Pericles delivered a funeral oration praising the sacrifice and valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian War—a speech that some have compared in tone to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Source: History.com

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