How and When did Memorial Day Start?

Ashley | 04 - 26 - 2021
Memorial Day

Know about the complete history and where the memorial started in a fun and informative way with this quiz.

How Did Memorial Day Start?

Historians don’t have the exact answer to the question “How Did Memorial Day Begin?” as many states and counties worldwide have separate days dedicated to honoring the fallen heroes of their nation. But the history behind why Waterloo was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day is an interesting one. 

Where Is the Official Birthplace of Memorial Day Situated?

“Where did Memorial Day originate?” Here is the story behind the question: 

When Was Memorial Day First Celebrated?
  • A. 1st May 1865
  • B. 5th May 1865
  • C. 30th May 1868
  • D. None of the Above

Confederate soldiers had captured Union soldiers from South Carolina and jailed them in a makeshift prison inside the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club in Charleston. The prisoners who died of sickness and exposure were buried right behind the grounds of the racecourse.

Later, when Charleston lost, the surviving prisoners were set free, and they, in turn, exhumed the bodies of their fellow prisoners and gave them a proper burial. They also installed a tall whitewashed fence in the cemetery with the words “Martyrs of the Race Course” inscribed.

But the story doesn’t end here, and the freed slaves returned to the cemetery on 1st May 1865 to pay homage to the lost lives. They organized a parade around the racecourse consisting of white missionaries, 3000 children of color singing “John Brown’s Body” while holding flower bouquets. Members of the 54th Massachusetts and Black Union regiments, Black ministers, recited prayers and bible verses.

Why Is Waterloo the Birthplace of Memorial Day? 

Later, Congress President Jhonson Lyndon declared Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. The first Memorial Day was celebrated on 5th May 1865 by hosting a range of events annually community-wide where businesses closed, and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags while adorning red poppies.

What Is the Purpose of Memorial Day?

There may not be a definite answer to “When Did Memorial Day Start” but there is an answer to the purpose behind memorial day.

The day was first solely dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in the American Civil War. Later on, the fallen souls of both World Wars, Vietnam War, Iraq, and Afghanistan Wars were also included in the list. 

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