While Americans mark Memorial Day across the US in all 50 states and Washington D.C, many are unaware about the official birthplace of the observance.

Three years after the Civil War ended, the day has been celebrated to commemorate those who died while serving the US military.

Nearly 100 years later, Congress and then-President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the “birthplace” of Memorial Day in 1966.

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On May 17 of 1966, Congress recognized Waterloo and Johnson signed the Presidential Proclamation nine days later, it was New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller who first proclaimed the town as the “birthplace” on March 7, 1966.

The reason for choosing Waterloo was due to the town’s celebration of Memorial Day inspired many future observances across the US

The first Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, celebrated in Waterloo was in 1866. General John Murray, who fought in the Civil War, formed a committee to devote a day to the fallen heroes of the war.

This day was marked by lowering flags to half-mast, closing all businesses and preparing decorations for each veteran’s grave.

Despite Waterloo holding the official title as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day, there have been several who have disputed which US town held the first tribute to those who died in the Civil War.

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According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), one of the first observances was in Columbus, Mississippi. Two cities in Georgia, Macon and Columbus, and two in Virginia, Richmond and Boalsburg, have also claimed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.

The VA estimates there are approximately 25 places that have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day.

Today, the National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to carry out one minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for those who have lost their lives serving the country.