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In 1871, Michigan made "Decoration Day" an official state holiday and by 1890, every northern state had followed suit.The ceremonies were sponsored by the Women's Relief Corps, the women's auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which had 100,000 members. The holiday, from latest to earliest, is slightly more likely to fall on May 30, May 28 or May 25 (58 in 400 years each) than on May 27 or May 26 (57), and slightly less likely to occur on May 31 or May 29 (56).Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service.Various dates ranging from April 25 to mid-June were adopted in different Southern states.Across the South, associations were founded, many by women, to establish and care for permanent cemeteries for the Confederate dead, organize commemorative ceremonies, and sponsor appropriate monuments as a permanent way of remembering the Confederate dead.In April 1865, following President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, commemorations were ubiquitous.The more than 600,000 soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance.

The most famous are Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania and Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, DC.In July 1913, veterans of the United States and Confederate armies gathered in Gettysburg to commemorate the fifty-year anniversary of the Civil War's bloodiest and most famous battle.The four-day "Blue-Gray Reunion" featured parades, re-enactments, and speeches from a host of dignitaries, including President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner elected to the White House after the War.After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress' change of date within a few years.Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

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