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Connecticut historian challenges Waterloo’s status as ‘birthplace’ of Memorial Day

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Connecticut-based historian, Marshall “Mike” Berdan, has called into question the 1966 Congressional designation of Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

The Finger Lakes Times reported a lengthy piece in Friday’s paper, highlighting the case against Waterloo’s status.


This all comes less than two weeks after Waterloo celebrated a three-day Memorial Day event.

Berdan’s research, conducted since a 2016 visit to the Waterloo Memorial Day Museum, casts doubt on the village’s historical basis for the designation. He contends that all the evidence submitted by the Waterloo Memorial Day Centennial Committee to Congress in 1966 was flawed or falsified.


In response, Waterloo officials continue to assert their town’s long-standing Memorial Day observance tradition dating back to 1866.

They argue that the matter goes beyond being the first to commemorate the war dead formally, focusing on the continuity of the observance since 1866.

Despite Berdan offering his findings to the National Cemetery Administration’s research team in 2021, local officials maintain their claim. Future plans for the 158th consecutive Memorial Day observance and the 25th Celebrate Commemorate event in 2024 continue undeterred.