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Today is Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered. What can you do to honor them?

  • Visit cemeteries and memorials.

  • Attend Memorial Day ceremonies.

  • Volunteer to place an American Flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

  • Observe a minute of silence at 3:00 PM, local time.

  • Attend a Memorial Day parade, festival, fair or concert such as the National Memorial Day Concert.

  • Run for charity on Memorial Day weekend.

  • Volunteer to support events such as the National Memorial Day Parade.

  • Donate to veterans and military support groups.


Memorial Day began sometime after the Civil War with both formal and informal ceremonies at graves and ceremonies for the soldiers who had fallen in battle. Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866, including Waterloo, New York and both Macon and Columbus, Georgia. On May 5, 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an Union veterans organization, established Decoration Day, May 30, as a time for the nation to decorate the dead with flowers. Arlington National Cemetery held the first large observance later that year.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held throughout the country on May 30. Over time, the Army and Navy adopted policies for proper observances, and state legislatures passed proclamations designating the day. After World War I the day was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars, and in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.


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