Probably most people think of Memorial Day simply as the beginning of the summer season. It is associated with fun at the beach, summer romances, and being out of school. A fun time.
But, of course, the holiday began as, and for some still is, a solemn occasion—a time for remembrance of those who died at war. Observed the last Monday in May, it is also known as "Decoration Day." In 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Gen. John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an order designating the day as one on which the graves of soldiers were "decorated" with flowers and ribbons.
The holiday was originally devoted to honoring the memory of those who fell in the Civil War. The Southern states, perceiving it as a Yankee innovation, generally ignored it, and set up Confederate Memorial Days of their own. Some—Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Louisiana—still have them, in addition to the regular Memorial Day.