Formerly known as Decoration Day, Monday is Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to honor the country’s men and women who have died in war. The official observance is marked by the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The holiday was originally created to honor the memory of the soldiers killed in the Civil War, but was later extended to include all U-S war dead. In 1866, Columbus, Mississippi in the south and Waterloo, New York in the north began formal observances dedicated to the memory of both Union and Confederate troops who had died.

In 1868, General John Logan, the Commander of the Army ordered that May 30th become the date that graves of soldiers be decorated with flowers and flags to honor their memory.

In 1966, Waterloo was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day because the town had made it an annual, community-wide event.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday to be celebrated each year on the last Monday in May.

Tradition calls for the wearing of red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who died serving the United States during war.

A little know tradition is at 3 pm you’re supposed to pause for a moment of silence.

So today during your picnic or family get together – take a moment to remember the true meaning of the day.