The origins of what we know today as Memorial Day had murky beginnings. It was originally known as Decoration Day and was practiced only in the South.
During the Civil War, confederate women's groups would meet to lay flowers on the graves of the southern war dead.
After the war, Union General John Logan declared that May 30th was Memorial Day. The day was set aside to lay flowers on both the Union and Confederate war dead.
However, it was only really nationally recognized after World War I when the holiday was changed to honoring all Americans who died in all wars rather than just the Civil War. Until that time, all Southern states made their 'decoration days' on separate dates because they were upset that the North would co opt their tradition of honoring their dead.
Finally, in 1971 it was declared an official National holiday.
This really goes to show that although the 'hot' Civil War ended in the 1860's- the 'cold' Civil War raged on for the next 100 years. In the big picture of American history it's only recently that calling someone a 'yankee' or 'carpet bagger' can be done so in jest.
It's surprising and encouraging that such a divisive holiday turned into a symbol of national unity.
Happy Memorial Day- let's remember that all gave some and some gave all.