Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day -- a time set aside to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. On that day, the largest known ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington D.C..
Over time, people adopted the name Memorial Day, and ceremonies were held across the country to honor all U.S. soldiers who had died at war. On May 11, 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution requesting that the President proclaim a “Prayer for Peace” on each Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be held on the last Monday of every May.
This Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who have served our country. Here is a selection of Memorial Day photos and speeches from the holdings of the Presidential Libraries of the U.S. National Archives. For more information, visit: http://www.archives.gov/presidential-libraries/