Memorial Day is the day we honor our fallen military service members with parades and speeches. The backyard barbecues held afterward kick off summer.
How Memorial Day Began
There wasn’t always a Memorial Day. In 1868, people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor Civil War soldiers buried on the land once owned by Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The government had bought the parcel at a tax sale and set aside 200 acres for a cemetery.
Planners of what was then called Decoration Day chose May 30 because it didn’t commemorate any battles and because flowers would be in bloom. You can read more at Decoration Day, 1868.
In this Library of Congress photo of Decoration Day in 1873 (the LOC catalog entry notes a penciled-in date of 1868 on the back of the image is wrong), Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. James A. Garfield are in the reviewing stand. Grant was president from 1869 to 1877, and Garfield served as president for 20 days in 1881, until he was assassinated.
Decoration Day officially became Memorial Day in 1971, more than a 100 years after the first ceremony.
Create an Online Photo Memorial to Your Family’s Veterans
Fold3.com makes it easy to create an online memorial to the military men and women in your family. You can view what other memorials look like here. Hover over Memorials to chose US Honor Wall, US Vietnam Wall (based on names from the Vietnam memorial), or U.S.S. Arizona Wall (based on names from the U.S.S. Arizona memorial).
Before creating a new memorial, search for the veteran’s name to see if one already exists. You can create a free basic Fold3 account and add information to what’s already online.
If there isn’t a page for your relative:
- In the Memorials menu, select Add a Memorial Page (or click here). You’ll need to create a free basic Fold3 account if you’re not a member of Fold3.
- Set up a profile page with a name and picture.
- Add a summary of facts about the person.
- Identify related pages (perhaps another relative served as well) or add them yourself.
- Upload photos and digitized documents.
You can add a story about the person and ask others to contribute their memories. When you’re finished, share the page on your social media accounts.
For an example of what’s possible, take a look at this page for William Taylor (no relation to me). There’s a list of personal details, a cemetery stone as a profile picture, and short stories about him. In the upper right of the screen is a prompt for page visitors to tell a story about him.
If you’ve created a Memorial Page, please share the link with us.
Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:
- Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
- Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
- Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
- Hairstyles 1840-1900
- Photo-Organizing Practices
- Preserving Your Family Photographs
- Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now