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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - It's Memorial Day, a time set aside for America to remember its men and women who died to give us all our freedoms and liberties.

Over the years, of course, the day has also become a time when Americans spend time with their families as the summer travel season begins. An estimated 452,550 South Carolinians planned to travel this year.

The exact origin of Memorial Day is somewhat in dispute, but most sources say it began after the Civil War to honor those killed in that conflict. At least one account says freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina were the first to mark the occasion, when they celebrated the end of the war in 1865.

First known as "Decoration Day," the first official proclamation was made in 1868 by an organization of Northern veterans which said that people should celebrate the day on May 30. It would remain on that exact date for almost 100 years.

In the 1880s, people began to refer to the day as Memorial Day, and over time (particularly after World War I) that became the adopted standard. It wasn't until 1967, however, that federal law officially named it "Memorial Day."

A year later, Congress passed a measure which made the official observance of Memorial Day on the last Monday in May, rather than always on May 30.

News19 joins everyone across the nation in recognizing the sacrifice of America's fighting forces.

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