Memorial Day

Memorial Day: A Day to Honor

Last updated on August 11th, 2023 at 07:54 pm

Memorial Day traditions like barbecues, picnics, and parades come to mind when we say Memorial Day. However, it's important to remember that this Memorial Day holiday is about more than a cookout or a change in the seasons.

In the United States of America, we observe Memorial Day; remember those who fought for our freedom—the heroes who gave their lives to protect the prosperity of our country. We hope you'll pause and reflect on these men and women this year and remind your children, family, and friends to do the same.

When is Memorial Day Weekend?

You may be wondering: When is Memorial Day Weekend? We all know that the holiday comes every May, but its exact date changes yearly. 

Memorial Day is a United States of America federal holiday. We always celebrate on the last Monday of May. This allows a three-day weekend for federal employees. Before they called it Memorial Day, people knew it as Decoration Day. It was first celebrated nationally at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. 

The Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for many of our nation's greatest heroes. It is where Confederate and Union soldiers were buried, including more than 300,000 veterans of every American conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is located in Arlington, VA, just across Memorial Bridge from the Lincoln Memorial. Most towns celebrate Memorial Day with a parade.

memorial day parade

Memorial Day has been observed on May 30 for decades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This change went into effect in 1971.

Many Americans spend the holiday visiting cemeteries or memorials where they set flowers and an American flag on each grave. Observers hold family gatherings to enjoy the holiday and participate in parades. 

Every state has its traditions and ways of honoring Memorial Day. Many of these traditions go way back.

Here are some popular Memorial Day Traditions:

  • Many visit the graves of fallen military personnel to mourn and leave flowers and mementos at their graves. This is a tradition that dates back to the Civil War. 
  • Military cemeteries, like Gettysburg National Cemetery, PA, and Arlington Cemetery, WA, get many visitors. 
  • Organizers hold parades and events in many towns and cities. This includes marching bands and speeches by military veterans. Many people gather to watch wreath-laying ceremonies. Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC typically host the largest parades.
  • It is also a popular time for families to host get-togethers. The timing of this three-day weekend at the beginning of summer makes family events or day trips ideal.
  • It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half-mast from dawn until noon.
  • President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000, and all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 pm. local time. 
  • For the fashion-conscious, many go the patriotic route and opt for a red, white, and blue look.
  • The President of the United States of America places a Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

picnic-blanket-hat-basket - Memorial Day Traditions

All non-essential government offices, schools, businesses, and other organizations close on Memorial Day. Plan your trips well and consider that there may be some congestion on highways and at airports. Public transit systems mostly have modified schedules.

We honor those who were killed during their military service on Memorial Day. To the military men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line for our freedom and safety, we thank you. We appreciate your service and are forever grateful. 

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