Memorial Day

Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of each May in the United States and began as “Decoration Day” after four years of Civil War in the United States, in which more than 600,000 men died. Although it eventually become known as “Memorial Day,” it was not until 1968, with the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that it become an official Federal holiday.

It seems that in May of 1868, John Logan, a veteran of the Civil War and head of the Union veterans organization the Grand Army of the Republic, established May 30th as “Decoration Day.” A day when people would be encouraged to put flowers on graves of family, friends and comrades who perished in the war. On May 30, 1868, General Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first official National Decoration Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I, Decoration Day evolved into a day or remembrance for all soldiers who died during the country’s wars.

Memorial Day also has its own tradition with respect to flying the US flag.  The protocol is to raise the flag to full-staff at sunrise and then slowly lower the flag to half-staff.  At noon, the flag should again be raised to full-staff to honor all those who have served.  At 3:00 p.m. local time every Memorial Day, Americans are asked to stop what they are doing for 1 minute of silence to pay tribute to those American soldiers who have fallen in service to their country.  This tradition was memorialized in 2000 with the passage of The National Moment of Remembrance Act.

You can learn more about the history of Memorial Day here.