Memorial Day used to be known as "Decoration Day" and was day observed to the Confederate and Union soldiers who were killed during the Civil War. It started a month after the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the act of placing flowers on the graves began in 1866.
When did the modern day Memorial Day start
Although several towns lay claim to the starting what we now know as "Memorial Day," the modern day holiday was actually started by residents of Waterloo, New York in 1966. It is legally required to observe a National Moment of Remembrance. In 2000 Congress passed a law that designated 3:00 p.m. as the time to stop and pause to remember those who have died.
Flags at Half Staff
Although there are many different customs and traditions associated with Memorial Day, there are two common traditions observed everywhere. The first is lowering the flag to half mast until noon and then raising it back to full mast until sundown. The other tradition is playing Taps at military funerals which actually occurs at every military funeral regardless of the day.
Origination of Federal Observance
The first large federal observance occurred at Arlington when it was still the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. During a ceremony where speeches were given. Children of those killed in the Civil War, along with members of the Grand Army of the Republic, walked through the cemetery singing hymns and recited poetry while throwing flowers on the graves.
The Tradition of Flowers on Memorial Day
The original date designated for Memorial Day was on May 30. The reason for this was simple. It's because by the end of May, flowers all over the country were in bloom. Of course now we observe Memorial Day on the last Monday of the month in May.