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Dedication of Soldier's Monument on Woburn Common

The origins of Memorial Day date back to the end of the Civil War when citizens began commemorating soldiers who died in the war by decorating their graves in the spring with flowers. At the time known as Decoration Day, this holiday is thought to have first been celebrated in Waterloo, New York in 1866. Woburn celebrated its first Decoration Day on May 30, 1868, however a committee had been appointed earlier at the Town Meeting, on November 5, 1867, to erect a Soldier’s Monument on the Common to honor Woburn’s soldiers who died in the Civil War. The dedication, on Oct. 14, 1869, brought large crowds to Woburn to view the festivities and parade in what was believed to have been the single largest gathering of people ever in Woburn’s history. Decoration Day, over time, became known as Memorial Day and became an official federal holiday in 1971.