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Henry Carter Wells, co-founder of Memorial Day, 1866
Henry Carter Welles, druggist, co-founder of Memorial Day, Waterloo, NY, 1866. Photo courtesy Waterloo Memorial Day Museum

Waterloo: Birthplace of Memorial Day

In 1866 some Waterloo citizens, headed by General John B. Murray and druggist Henry Welles, organized Decoration Day to honor the community's Civil War dead. Graves were decorated in remembrance of the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families; thus was the first Memorial Day observed in the United States, as it has been ever since. Today there is a Memorial Day Museum in a historic house on Main Street.

Originally submitted by: Thomas M. Reynolds, Representative (27th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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