The first documented observance of Memorial Day occurred in Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866. The purpose of the day was to honor those who fought in the Civil War. The day has now expanded to honor those who died during each of the wars in which the United States fought. Typical activities include placing flowers on the graves of soldiers and many communities have parades as tributes to the soldiers who died.
Public Law 90-363, passed on June 28, 1968, required that beginning in 1971, Memorial Day would be observed on the last Monday in May. It is a legal holiday in the United States.