What Is Memorial Day?

In the heart of every American, there lies a deep reverence for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Memorial Day, a revered federal holiday, stands as a poignant reminder of the unwavering dedication and bravery displayed by U.S. military personnel. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn occasion allows us to honor and mourn the fallen heroes who gave their lives while defending the United States. As we approach this significant day, let us take a moment to reflect on the profound meaning behind Memorial Day and the enduring spirit it represents in the fabric of America.

What is Memorial Day and Why is it Celebrated?

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a significant federal holiday in the United States. It is dedicated to honoring and commemorating the brave U.S. military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces. This solemn day is observed on the last Monday of May, although it was traditionally recognized on May 30 between 1868 and 1970.

On Memorial Day, countless individuals pay their respects by visiting cemeteries and memorials throughout the country. These heartfelt visits serve as a way to honor and mourn those who selflessly gave their lives in service to their nation. Many devoted volunteers participate in the tradition of placing American flags on the graves of fallen military personnel in national cemeteries, symbolizing gratitude and remembrance.

In addition to its profound significance, Memorial Day also holds a special place in the hearts of Americans as the unofficial kickoff of the summer season. As the holiday falls at the end of May, it carries a sense of anticipation and marks the beginning of sunny days, warm weather, and outdoor activities for many across the United States.


  • Between 1868 and 1970, May 30 held a special significance as Memorial Day, commemorated annually during this period.
  • Originally known as Decoration Day, the commemorative holiday we now recognize as Memorial Day has evolved over time.
  • One of the early instances of Memorial Day observance can be attributed to the efforts of newly emancipated African Americans.
  • After the conclusion of World War II, the holiday’s name transitioned to Memorial Day, solidifying its association with honoring the fallen servicemen and women of the United States.
  • Waterloo, New York, holds the distinction of being widely recognized as the birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • In 1971, Memorial Day received official recognition as a federal holiday, solidifying its importance and significance in the United States.
  • Marking the unofficial commencement of summer in the United States, Memorial Day sets the stage for the sun-soaked season ahead.
  • Established in the year 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance takes place on Memorial Day, serving as a poignant reminder of the solemnity and reverence that this day holds.
  • On Memorial Day, a symbolic gesture is observed by flying the flag at half-staff from sunrise until noon, paying homage to the fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives in service to their country.

American Traditions

Visiting cemeteries and memorials

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials to pay their respects to fallen soldiers. They may leave flowers, flags, or other mementos on the gravesites as a sign of remembrance.

Flag placement

Volunteers often participate in placing American flags on the graves of military personnel in national cemeteries or local burial grounds. This act symbolizes gratitude and serves as a visual representation of the lives lost in service.

Moment of Silence

At 3:00 p.m. local time, a National Moment of Remembrance is observed. People pause for a moment of silence to reflect on the sacrifices made by the fallen soldiers.


Many communities organize parades on Memorial Day, featuring marching bands, veterans’ groups, military vehicles, and floats. These parades are a way to honor the military and show support for their service.

Family Gatherings and BBQ

Memorial Day also serves as an opportunity for families and friends to come together. Many people enjoy outdoor activities, picnics, and barbecues, as the holiday also unofficially marks the beginning of the summer season.

Wearing Red Poppies

Wearing red poppy flowers is a tradition inspired by the famous war poem “In Flanders Fields.” The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance and is often worn on Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers.

It is important to note that while Memorial Day has become associated with the start of summer and social activities, it is crucial to maintain the primary focus of remembering and honoring the military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice.

You can read more about the Holidays Here!

Love, Bee xxx

One thought on “What Is Memorial Day?

  1. I had no idea that Waterloo, NY was the birth place for Memorial Day. I will definitely be looking into more history of this holiday. Thank you for sharing!

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