WTF Fun Facts 12690 – The Official Creation of U.S. Memorial Day

The U.S. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971 with the Uniform Holiday Memorial Act, however it has a history dating back much farther. The long title of the act that created Memorial Day is “An act to provide for uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays, and for other purposes.”

The Act is identified as Pub.L. 90–363, 82 Stat. 250 and was actually enacted on June 28, 1968, though it didn’t “take effect” until 1971. Of course, people celebrated, but creating a national holiday requires some extra time to work around business schedules since it would be a federal holiday and an official day off for federal workers. The travel industry played a role in lobbying for the Act in order to increase the number of 3-day weekends for Americans to plan vacations.

While the act may have been passed in part for political and financial reasons in Congress, to many Americans it was (and is) an important day of acknowledgment for soldiers past and present. At the time, the war in Vietnam was still raging as well, and this didn’t have heavy support on the homefront.

What is now “Memorial Day” started not long after the U.S. Civil War (which makes sense, since it claimed more lives than any other conflict in American history), and in many places was called originally called “Decoration Day.” In 1966, the federal government named Waterloo, New York the “birthplace of Memorial Day.” (But if you read the next “Fun” Fact, you’ll see why this was problematic for many people.)

It was (and IS) a day to celebrate all the members of the military who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. A number that stands at around 1.3 million people. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Memorial Day” — History.com

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