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Calendar for May 26th, 2014

Memorial Day

The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear. In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America's need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers' graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation. No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and for many years, states observed the holiday on different dates. By federal law, however, Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday in May. Since it all started with the Civil War, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of this event by visiting the Library of Congress Civil War collection, which includes more than a thousand photographs.


  • 1721: Smallpox epidemic in Boston, Massachusetts

  • 1880s

  • Born 1886: Al Jolson (entertainer)

  • 1889: First public elevator at Eiffel Tower opened

  • 1890s

  • 1896: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was published for the first time

  • 1900s

  • 1906: Archaeological Institute of America incorporated

  • Born 1907: John Wayne (actor)

  • 1910s

  • Born 1912: Jay Silverheels (actor who played "Tonto" on The Lone Ranger TV series)

  • 1920s

  • Born 1920: Peggy Lee (actress)

  • Died 1924: Victor Herbert (composer)

  • 1950s

  • Born 1951: Sally Ride (astronaut; first American woman in space)

  • 1954: Boat of Pharaoh Cheops discovered near Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt

  • 1960s

  • 1961: The host of NBC's Today Show, Dave Garroway, announced his plans to retire from the show

  • 1980s

  • 1981: Canada and the U.S. signed the Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty

  • 1990s

  • Born 1991: Julianna Rose Mauriello (actress)

  • 2000s

  • Died 2008: Sydney Pollack (actor & director)

  • Died 2008: Earle H. Hagen (composer; whistled the tune for The Andy Griffith Show)

  • 2010s

  • Died 2010: Art Linkletter (radio and television personality)

  • 2010: "Millions" of frogs force closure of Egnatia Highway in Greece

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