Memorial Day, Honoring Our Nation’s Heroes

Memorial Day is a nationally observed holiday that occurs annually on the last Monday in May, honoring the men and women who died serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day officially became a federally recognized holiday in 1971.

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it is formerly known as, originated after the American Civil War; southern woman’s organizations and schoolchildren decorated Confederate soldier graves and thus started a commemorative gesture to honor fallen Union soldiers in the Civil War. After the World War I era, Memorial Day has been extended to include all fallen men and women who died in all wars serving the United States.

There are a variety of traditions that Americans participate in on Memorial Day. Some rituals include flying flags at half-staff until noon and volunteers placing American flags at each gravestone in national and military cemeteries, while encouraging citizens to take a moment of silence at 3:00 PM local time as a symbol of remembrance. Many people celebrate by visiting cemeteries and memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has been held the Sunday before Memorial Day. The Coca-Cola 600 stock car race and the Memorial Tournament golf event are also annual events taking place on Memorial Day weekend.

What are your family traditions to celebrate?

Sources:, US Memorial Day

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