Why Do We Celebrate Memorial Day: Meaning, History & Facts
Memorial Day is a solemn holiday dedicated to honoring and remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It serves as a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The primary purpose of Memorial Day is to commemorate the war dead from all branches of the military, including those who fought in conflicts such as the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and subsequent conflicts.
Memorial Day originated in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John A. Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, as a day for decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.
Memorial Day became a national observance in the United States through the efforts of various organizations and communities. It was designated as a federal holiday in 1971 and is observed on the last Monday in May each year.
The decision to move Memorial Day from its original fixed date of May 30th to the last Monday in May was made to create a three-day weekend, providing Americans with an extended holiday to remember and honor the fallen.
Memorial Day is marked by various remembrance ceremonies, such as parades, memorial services, wreath-laying ceremonies, and moments of silence. These events allow communities to come together and pay their respects to fallen soldiers.
In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed, encouraging all Americans to observe a moment of silence at 3:00 PM local time on Memorial Day. This moment serves as a collective tribute to fallen heroes.
On Memorial Day, it is customary to display the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon as a sign of respect for the fallen. After noon, the flag is raised to full-staff to symbolize the resolve to not let their sacrifice be in vain.