Waterloo NY: The Birthplace of Memorial Day

Welcome Summer!

When people hear the words Memorial Day, most people think about the first holiday of summer, BBQ's, family, friends, fun, and laughter. Of course, after those initial thoughts they are replaced with the real reason behind Memorial Day. It is a day to honor those that have given their lives to serve their country and keep it free. Without these honorable men and women, who knows where the United States of America would be today. I am proud to be an American and also a resident of Waterloo, NY: The Birthplace of Memorial Day.

Founders of Memorial Day

Henry C. Wells
Henry C. Wells
John B. Murray
John B. Murray

Memorial Day Begins

Memorial Day dates back to the summer of 1865 in Waterloo, NY, where a local townsman, Henry C. Wells made some comments about praising and honoring the dead veterans of the Civil war along with the ones that survived, by placing flowers on the graves of all the fallen solders. Unfortunately, the idea never went anywhere until the following spring when Wells mentioned the idea to General John B. Murray, a Civil war hero who was extremely patriotic. The two began to plan a formal celebration with the rest of the community to honor fallen soldiers.

The first Memorial Day celebration took place on May 5, 1866. The entire town displayed American flags at half-mast and was draped in black for morning. A procession of veterans and townsfolk followed Murray as he led a procession to three different village cemeteries, accompanied by martial music. Remembrance celebrations took place and flowers were placed on the grave of every fallen soldiers, in the three cemeteries. The same celebrations took place the same day the year after, and then the following year the celebration date turned to May 30th. And continued every year after that for 100 years.

Waterloo, NY is the first place that had a specific date honoring the dead with a village wide celebration. On March 7, 1966, the governor of New York, Nelson A. Rockefeller, followed by the senate and congress, “Resolved that the Congress of the United States, in recognition of the patriotic tradition set in motion one hundred years ago in the Village of Waterloo, NY, does hereby officially recognize Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day..."

On May 26, 1966, president, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed a Presidential Proclamation recognizing Waterloo, NY as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Waterloo, NY in 1866
Waterloo, NY in 1866

Modern Celebrations

An air view of the celebrations
An air view of the celebrations
One of the parades
One of the parades

Waterloo National Memorial Day Museum

The Memorial Day Museum
The Memorial Day Museum

Today

For the past ten years, a committee made up of dedicated village residents, organizes and holds “Celebrate Commemorate”. This year the celebration will take place from May 28-31st. Events are held all throughout town, but many of the activities take place at the Memorial Day Park in Waterloo. The events included are a craft fair, woody car show, parades, kids fun corner, musical entertainment, plus much, much more. Of course, there are the historical remembrance ceremonies that are held at the village cemeteries.

The National Memorial Day Museum

The National Memorial Day Museum, located in downtown Waterloo, is a place dedicated to telling the story of Memorial Day, Civil War and the history behind these two events that changed the course of history. As guests visit the museum, they are taken room by room as history unfolds. The Museum includes authentic, historical artifacts and details the history behind Waterloo, NY.

The American Civil War Memorial

Village resident memorials
Village resident memorials
Top of the Star Memorial
Top of the Star Memorial

The American Civil War Memorial

Located along the beautiful Cayuga-Seneca Canal, is the Waterloo American Civil War Memorial. The memorial was created in 2008 as a way to honor all of the Waterloo citizens that gave their lives during the Civil War. There are parties from both the North and the South listed in the Memorial. Townspeople were responsible for the creation of the Memorial and worked together to create it out of limestone. The central feature of the memorial is a stone star which includes 620 22K gold stars. Each gold star represents 1,000 lives lost during the length of the Civil War. Around the central feature are 57 cedar posts with plaques of the names of the village residents who lost their lives. They ranged in age from 18-47. There is also a memorial to commemorate all of the women who played a part in running the country during the war.

Send A Greeting

Send Memorial Day Wishes, Greetings,Memorial Day Weekend Ecards,USA Memorial Day Greeting Cards

Let's Remember...

While we are all enjoying our first cookouts of the season with those that we love. Remember the real reason for the holiday and pay tribute to all of those men and women throughout history who have given their lives for our freedom. "Waterloo Remembers"....Do You?

Looking For Some Neat Memorial Day Items?

Uncle Sam Inflatable Mailbox Cover 4th July Memorial Day Decoration
Uncle Sam Inflatable Mailbox Cover 4th July Memorial Day Decoration

Celebrate our holidays with fun and flair! Unique and decorative covers wrap around your mailbox with 3-D flair. This stand-up accent inflates with an airtight valve for a fun look. Adjustable fabric-magic straps secure to fit most freestanding mailboxes. Made of polyester; measures approx. 20" x 18", each.

 
USMC Esprit De Corps Lamp by The Hamilton Collection
USMC Esprit De Corps Lamp by The Hamilton Collection

A distinctive tribute to the United States Marine Corps, rich with sculptural detail and infused with the spirit of the Corps - available exclusively from The Hamilton Collection The famous Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem and the historic image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima are fully sculptured and plated in a striking combination of golden and silvery finishes, along with a real fabric flag

 

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Comments 1 comment

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Nice hub and it is such beautiful country up there. I didn't know all the history of the event. Thanks.

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