WHEN IS MEMORIAL DAY?
This U.S. federal holiday is celebrated on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military.
MEMORIAL DAY HISTORY
The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear.
In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.
After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.
Since it all started with the Civil War, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of this event by visiting the Library of Congress Civil War collection, which includes more than a thousand photographs.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEMORIAL DAY AND VETERANS DAY
Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served—in wartime or peacetime—and whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.