Memorial Day started in several cities in 1866, as a tribute to soldiers who had died in the Civil War. In 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Veterans, organized Decoration Day, a holiday to honor those who had died in the war.
As part of his speech at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt Park’s namesake, said, “On July 4 we celebrate the birth of the nation; on this day, the 30th of May, we call to mind the deaths of those who died that the nation might live.
In 1971, Congress established the last Monday in May as the national holiday of Memorial Day. In 2016, May 30th is the day chosen to remember all those who have died in active military service.