Decoration.--Rev. John Boag's Imperial Lexicon, c. 1850
A public holiday occurring generally towards the end of May, and set apart for the decoration of the graves of those who fell in the Civil War.--Sylvia Clapin's Dictionary of Americanisms, 1902
Decoration Day may have been observed first in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1864, when three women quietly laid flowwers on the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. Or perhaps Des Moines, Iowa, can claim the distinction because of the observance that occurred there on April 13, 1862, which was repeated the following two years. Beyond that, some two dozen other towns -- Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Columbus, Missouri; and Carbondale, Illinois, among them -- also assert that they originated what became Memorial Day. But after President Lyndon Johnson chose Waterloo, New York, in 1966 as the place to announce that the holiday was no federally official after a century of informal status, that town proudly began calling itself "the birthplace of Memorial Day."
Stop squabbling, children.