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Memorial Day: From Civil War To Sales Extravaganza

This Monday is Memorial Day. It’s a national holiday that honors the sacrifice of American soldiers who have died in combat. But for the majority of Americans Memorial Day signifies barbecues, baseball, beer, and – most importantly – retail sales events. So how did we go from a national day of remembrance to a day of sweet savings?

It wasn’t always called Memorial Day

The Civil War took a severe toll on America. Over 600,000 soldiers died in combat. To put that into perspective, there were 416,800 US casualties in WWII. Women’s groups in various parts of the country began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers as a way to commemorate their sacrifice. Eventually, this ritual evolved into an annual tradition known as Decoration Day that took place on May 30th. This practice also coincided with the opening of the Gettysburg and Arlington National Cemeteries, which helped facilitate the holiday. There are several cities that lay claim to creating Decoration Day. Some say it began with a women’s group in Savannah, Georgia. Others say it started in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. When Lyndon B. Johnson declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1966 he chose the dark horse option and named Waterloo, New York as the official birthplace of the tradition. Boalsburg still hasn’t come to terms with it.

No, Memorial Day is not on May 30th

May 30th was the original date for Memorial Day. That’s because it was a date that did not coincide with any significant Civil War battles. Therefore neither the northern yankees nor the southern good ol’ boys could claim any special glory on the day. Plus it’s a time of year when flowers are ripe for picking, which made it an ideal time for decorating graves. However, in an effort to give federal employees more three day weekends, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. They moved Labor Day, Columbus Day, Washington’s Birthday, and Memorial Day to a specific Monday during their respective months. Poor Washington. First they ruined his birthday by changing the date. Then they lumped it in with Lincoln’s birthday for the sake of convenience. That’s like your less popular friend who has a birthday close to yours wanting to merge the two parties into one. Americans took advantage of the three day weekend by immediately forgetting the significance of Memorial Day and laughing about how they always confuse it with Labor Day.

Memorial Day becomes a major sales holiday

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer season. And retailers love when a new season starts. Memorial Day offers the perfect opportunity to launch new summer product lines (while also purging the remnants of their winter stock). Three day weekends are also ideal for sales events because people have more time to visit stores. They also have more time to contemplate their purchases. That’s why car dealerships, furniture stores, and mattress factories all gravitate toward these sales weekends. If people have an extra day to research these larger purchases then they have more time to feel comfortable about pulling the trigger. Those extra savings don’t hurt, either. Thanks to our glorious system of capitalism, as soon as a few retailers began running Memorial Day Sales everyone else had to join in, too. But a three day weekend simply isn’t good enough anymore. Memorial Day sales are getting longer and longer every year. There are even some Memorial Day sales that last an entire month! I guess we shouldn’t be surprised since the Christmas shopping season starts as soon as Walgreen’s clears their 4th of July decorations off the shelves.

Why spend the money on overhead when it can be better spent keeping a roof over your head (and something comfy to sit on under that roof)?

Does all of this mean that you’re having a Memorial Day sale?

Yes! Apt2B is all about creating the best value for the customer. The basis of our business model is passing off as many savings to the customer as possible. That’s why we don’t have any retail locations. Why spend the money on overhead when it can be better spent keeping a roof over your head (and something comfy to sit on under that roof)? Memorial Day is another opportunity for us to offer incredible savings. From now through Monday everything on our site is 15% off! Our Outlet items are also 60% off! Start shopping now so you can reserve the entire three day weekend for grilling and consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol.

We want to remind everyone that Memorial Day is about commemorating the ultimate sacrifice made by American soldiers. At 3:00PM on Monday please join the rest of the nation by taking a moment of silence to pay your respects.

Comments (5):

  1. Susan

    May 26, 2017 at 10:39 am

    God bless america. And furniture. Great read. Thanks, as always Apt2B!

    Reply
  2. Jessica

    May 26, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the history lesson!

    Reply
  3. David Engel

    May 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    thanks! just pulled the trigger on a brand new sofa and chair from the outlet- major steal. Thanks… fallen soliders?? ha I didn’t know about decoration day, pretty cool to learn about it a little

    Reply
  4. Saul

    May 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    What a great read! Learned something new!! Thank 🙂

    Reply
  5. Liz

    May 26, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Wow, this was so informative! Thank you for bringing perspective to what this holiday is about 🙂

    Reply

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