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In remembrance of the military personnel who have died while defending the country, Americans observe Memorial Day today. National observances of those who perished in the Civil War started in 1868 and were first known as Decoration Day. Numerous cities around the nation organized ceremonies and public events in honor of their citizens who served in the war but did not return home until the first national observance. In Charleston, South Carolina, hundreds of recently freed slaves men and women observed one of the first Memorial Day ceremonies in May 1865 in memory of the Union soldiers interred in mass graves. General James Garfield, who would go on to become president, gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868.

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