Although Memorial Day is often synonymous with warm temperatures, BBQs, and endless ice cream, the federal holiday is much more than the unofficial start of summer.

The last Monday in May is dedicated to honoring the men and women who died while serving in the military. However, some are not familiar with the history behind the holiday.

Here are some facts about Memorial Day from History, CNN, and other sites below:

  • Memorial Day originated several years after the Civil War, which ended in 1865, and was originally known as Decoration Day.
  • During the Civil War, approximately 620,000 Americans died. While the Confederacy lost about 260,000 soldiers, around 365,000 Union soldiers died.
  • In 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • Despite the federal government’s declaration, the origins regarding the first Memorial Day celebration continues to be a debated subject.
  • In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which declared that Memorial Day would be celebrated on the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.
  • Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971.
  • During the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at the Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 participants gathered to decorate the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers that were buried there.
  • More than 300,000 fallen soldiers are buried at Arlington Cemetery. On average, there are 28 burials there a day.
  • Former Confederate states like Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. These celebrations take place on various dates that range from January 19 to June 3.
  • Some Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting memorials and cemeteries. Others commemorate the day by wearing a red poppy in remembrance of soldiers who lost their lives while serving their country.
  • On Dec. 28, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act,” which identified 3:00 p.m. local time as the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day each year.
  • On Memorial Day, the American flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon. It should then be raised to the top of the staff until sunset to honor the nation’s fallen heroes.
  • Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day. While Memorial Day honors soldiers who died while serving their country, Veterans Day honors all US military veterans.
Memorial Day 2017
Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) salute as Taps is heard nearby during "Flags-in", where a flag is placed at each of the 284,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, ahead of Memorial Day, in Arlington, Virginia, May 25, 2017. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque