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Memorial Day’s Controversial History Explained

Memorial Day’s history is controversial. For many Americans, Memorial Day signifies the start of the summer season, as well as a much-needed long weekend. But hanging out by the pool and roasting hotdogs wasn’t the original purpose of the day.

Memorial Day has been celebrated as a national holiday in the U.S. on the last Monday in May since the early 1970s. But its roots reach back a century before that, in the bloody past of the nation’s most divided time: the Civil War.

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Memorial Day's history

Memorial Day display. Photo courtesy of

Memorial Day's history


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