The holiday was originally called Decoration Day because the purpose was to decorate graves, recognizing the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. It was unofficially begun in 1868 by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic. Through the years. other dates were chosen in some southern states to recognize Confederate soldiers.
In May 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson weighed in on a long-standing disagreement over where Memorial Day began by declaring Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of the holiday.
In 1971, Congress designated the last Monday of May as Memorial Day, a national holiday.
But do Americans honor their war dead appropriately on Memorial Day? An informal, unscientific poll online at http://www.thebraziltimes.com indicates by a 65-34 percent margin readers think we do not honor our deceased veterans as we should on this holiday.