1) Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
The first Decoration Day was declared on May 30, 1868, less than two years after the official conclusion of the Civil War. (Note: The war was over in 1865 but wasn’t officially over until August 20, 1866). Army Gen. John Logan proclaimed Decoration Day as a day to honor the sacrifices made for those ‘who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.’
Declaration Day came about after several cities and towns across America, mostly in the South, started paying tribute to the fallen by decorating soldiers gravestones as early as 1862, while the Civil War was still being fought.
Logan wrote, ‘The 30th day of May 1868 is designate for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades,’ a tradition that continues to this day, as more than 260,000 American flags are placed at every headstone at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.