Learn About The Origins of Memorial Day

Bridge Street

Every year on Memorial Day we remember those who gave their lives for our country’s freedom.  Did you know that the holiday has its origins here in Central New York? 

Located in Seneca County, the National Memorial Day Museum honors the village of Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day. The story dates to the mid-1800s where people would honor those who’d make it back from war.  Local pharmacist Henry C. Welles wanted to honor those who did not make it back home too.  

His idea didn’t come true until a year later when General John B. Murray supported the concept. The first event to honor those who had fallen was on May 5th, 1866. The village of Waterloo was decorated with flags at half-mast, and soldiers’ graves were decorated. The ceremonies were repeated the following year on May 6th, 1867. It wasn’t until 1868 when Waterloo joined with other communities to hold the observance of the holiday on May 30th. 

The National Memorial Day Museum is located on 35 E Main St, in Waterloo. You can learn more by visiting their website by clicking here

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