The real meaning behind Memorial Day and its customs

All too often around Memorial Day we tend to forget exactly why the holiday was created: to honor those American men and women who died during combat.

The holiday, instituted in 1866 in the wake of the Civil War, was first known as Decoration Day. It was set aside to remember both Union and Confederate soldiers alike.

More Americans were lost during the Civil War (620,000) than died in both World Wars combined (521,000). Factor in the differences in population and you can imagine how hard of a hit the war between the north and the south was on the country itself.

For more on this story, please visit Chron.com

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