When Memorial Day began, it had another name. It was called Decoration Day. It was a day to decorate the graves of those who died during the American Civil War. Many states had already chosen different days to honor their war dead, but May 30, 1868, was chosen as the official day by proclamation of General John A. Logan.
While the date was accepted by most Northern states, many Southern states ignored it and preferred to use the dates they had chosen. That did not change until after WWI. When the day was changed to honor those who died in all of America's wars, it was accepted in the South also.
In 1971, the date for Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday of May; this allowed federal government workers a three-day weekend. Many people feel that this has cheapened the holiday. Instead of honoring those who gave their lives serving our country, it's a day to celebrate not working. Many people want the holiday changed back to its original date in hopes of getting the original emphasis back.