Decoration Day 2024

Memorial Day was created in

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of and for Union Civil War veterans, issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and nationwide. This followed a practice begun in the Southern states two years earlier. Northern states quickly adopted the holiday.

The name “Memorial Day,” first used in 1882, gradually became more common than “Decoration Day” after World War II as the holiday expanded to honor the fallen from the World Wars. However, it was not until 1967 that it was declared the official name of the holiday. A year later Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May, effective 1971.

A few patents mention Decoration Day. U.S. Patent No. 972,371 issued October 11, 1910, to Walter Hammett, mentioned the holiday on a deck of cards for playing a card that that “will afford instruction as well as amusement. Oddly enough the next patent to mention Decoration Day was also on Playing Cards. U.S. Patent No. 1,703,754 issued on February 26, 1929, to Leo Smedley.

It was not until 1893 that the first patent issued on a decoration for Decoration Day. U.S. Patent No. 489,218 issued to Arsine Cofrey on January 3, 1893 on a Floral Figure:

It was not until 1958 that a second patent issued on a decoration for Decoration Day. U.S. Patent No. 2,857,507 issued October 21, 1958, to Edward Stec on an Electric Lawn Ornament:

There are several patents that reference Memorial Day, but disappointingly most are about calendaring the day, or reference the 500 mile race in Indianapolis held on the day. See, for example, US Patent Nos. 3396810 and 3653459. Fixing the holiday to guarantee a long weekend seems to have distracted us for the true meaning of the holiday. Sure, have fun this holiday weekend, but don’t forget to remember those who made it possible for us to enjoy it.