Memorial Day

Memorial Day Quick Facts

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2024 DateMay 27, 2024
2025 DateMay 26, 2025

Memorial Day

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Memorial Day History

Memorial Day is dedicated to honoring and remembering the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to the country. The occasion serves to recognize the bravery and dedication of these individuals in all branches of the military, from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, to the Air Force and Coast Guard. The observance is also significant for fostering shared values of patriotism, commitment and respect for the armed forces among all Americans.

The inception of Memorial Day dates back to the aftermath of the Civil War in the late 19th century as a means to honor the soldiers who fell on both sides of the conflict. Originally known as Decoration Day, the holiday gained official recognition at the national level in 1971. Memorial Day is an important part of American society and culture because it provides a moment of collective remembrance for the country’s fallen heroes. It's an opportunity for Americans to express their gratitude for the sacrifices made for the nation's freedom and security.

Memorial Day in the United States is marked by a variety of commemorative activities and traditions. These include visiting military cemeteries and memorials to lay flowers and flags, participating in parades, and observing a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps', a traditional bugle call played at military funerals. Many Americans also gather for family picnics and barbecues on this day, recognizing it as the unofficial start of the summer season. The Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, takes place at 3:00 pm local time. Memorial Day falls on the last Monday of May each year, providing a long weekend for these traditions and observances to take place.

Memorial Day facts

  • Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.
  • Memorial Day was officially declared a federal holiday in 1971.
  • The red poppy flower became a symbol of remembrance after the publication of the famous war poem "In Flanders Fields" by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
  • There have been about 1.35 million US military deaths since 1775.
  • The deadliest war the U.S has participated in was the Civil War, with around 620,000 deaths.
  • It is customary to fly a US flag at half-staff till noon on Memorial Day.

Top things to do for Memorial Day

  • Visit the grave of a fallen soldier.
  • Have a picnic or go boating.
  • Attend a Memorial day parade. One popular parade is the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC.
  • All Americans are encouraged to pause for one minute at 3:00 pm (local time). Think of the sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers to provide freedom for all.
  • Donate to a charity that serves veterans.

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