Amid the barbecuing, beach trips, blockbuster movie releases, and other unofficial-start-of-summer hoopla, it can be easy to forget what Memorial Day is actually all about. Observed on the last Monday of May, you’re probably aware that the holiday honors the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. But how much do you actually know about the holiday and its origins?
Here, we’ve rounded up a few Memorial Day facts that you might not have known:
1. The observance, which began in the years following the Civil War, was originally known as Decoration Day.
By the late 1860s, many Americans had begun hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves and with flowers and flags. It gradually came to be known as Memorial Day over the years.