It began as Decoration Day when women in the South decorated the graves of their American Civil War dead with flowers and flags. Observance of the day was first proclaimed by the nation’s largest veterans organization, and first observed on May 30, 1868. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, and the day was renamed Memorial Day. Laurel Hill Cemetery was the site in 1868 of the first Memorial Day observance in Philadelphia. Regardless of the name, this holiday honors all members of our armed services who died at war.