Memorial Day at the American Freedom Museum

Join as this Memorial Day weekend as we honor those who gave their lives for our nation’s freedoms.

Memorial Day Weekend Hours:
Saturday, May 27th 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Monday, May 29th 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Fascinating Facts About Memorial Day:
• Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day commemorating the Union and Confederate soldiers fallen in the American Civil War. Roughly 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War — making it the deadliest war in American history.
• Northern states adopted Decoration Day earlier and with more enthusiasm than the former Confederate states. In fact, it was not until after the World War I when the South finally adopted the holiday. At that time, the purpose of Memorial Day was broadened to include American soldiers fallen in all wars, not just in the Civil War.
• The first Memorial Day speech was given by Ohio Congressman James Abram Garfield, who later became a U.S. President, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 1868.
• The longest running Memorial Day parade takes place in the town of Ironton, southern Ohio where they have had a parade every year since 1868.
• Wearing red poppies, a popular Memorial Day tradition, originated from a poem called “In Flanders Field” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915. In 1924, faced by a shortage of poppies from French manufacturers, a first artificial poppy factory was created in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It employed veterans who needed work.
• Memorial Day was originally observed on May 30th. It was not until 1971 that the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May to ensure the prolonged weekend. In the same year, Memorial Day also became a federal holiday. Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 for decades, but in 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and a federal holiday.
• In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act which requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day to remember and honor those who have died serving the United States. This moment of remembrance is a one-minute period observed even by many large companies and organizations such as Greyhound, Amtrak, MLB, Empire State Building and others.
• Directed by Sam Fisher, there is a 2012 film called “The Memorial Day”. The plot revolves around a 13-year-old boy who finds his grandfather´s footlocker from the World War II.
• The Arlington National Cemetery, located in Arlington, Virginia, is one of the places where major Memorial Day ceremonies take place. One of the largest cemeteries in the world, it is home to 400,000 graves. Every year, the Memorial Day celebration at the Arlington Cemetery is attended by approximately 5,000 people.
• One of the Memorial Day traditions was to eat a picnic meal while sitting on the ground of a cemetery. Some people in rural areas of the south still practice it.
• On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. Then, it is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
• Performed on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., The National Memorial Day Concert is also held to pay tribute to fallen U.S. soldiers. Attended by more than half a million people, the concert can be watched by U.S. military personnel all over the world.
• On each Memorial Day, over 39 million Americans travel more than 50 miles from their homes for the weekend, making the traffic on this holiday extremely heavy.

Number of casualties in each U.S. war:
• Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.
• World War I: 116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.
• World War II: 405,399 Americans died.
• Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.
• Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died. More than 47,000 Americans
were killed in action and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.
• Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 148 U.S. battle deaths and 145 non-battle deaths.
• Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,422 U.S. service members died.
• Operation New Dawn: 66 U.S. service members died.
• Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,318 U.S. service members have died as of May 12, 2014.