Memorial Day

This federal holiday is celebrated every last Monday of May each year.


Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day.

The day originated as Decoration Day after the end of the American Civil War in the year 1868 to commemorate all those who sacrificed their lives in the Civil War, which was the brainchild of an organization called the Grand Army of the Republic founded by Union veterans in Decatur, Illinois.

Today it is commemorated as Memorial Day on the last Monday of May every year and is a declared Federal Holiday which allows the citizens of the United States of America to pay their respects to all their war dead who served in the US military.

By the turn of the 20th century there was a visible division with Union and Confederate factions having competing holiday traditions not only in commemorating their war dead but also on other critical issues but later sanity did prevail and all holidays including Memorial Day came to be commemorated as one.

Many Americans who would have at least one of their family members, to have made the supreme sacrifice to protect their homeland make the trek to any one of the closest National Cemeteries near to them, to pay their respects and remember their loved ones on this solemn day, which is especially dedicated to them.

The national cemeteries, on Memorial Day, take on a very sober, solemn and patriotic atmosphere with all graves being decorated with little American flags which is an annual ritual, carried out by volunteers who have made great efforts to ensure that the tradition goes on and those who have laid down their lives are never forgotten.

State and Federal Administrations have also kept this tradition alive by ensuring that all National cemeteries and other burial places where American War dead are buried is kept spick and span to ensure the respect accorded to those who laid down their lives in the line of duty in protecting their motherland is never diminished.

In some faraway places families make it a point to congregate and remember their dead and departed especially if one had been in military service and had laid down his or her life in the service of the country.

Generally the event begins with a religious service and with all family getting together, drinks and meals are partaken to keep the family unit together which would also make a very good opportunity for all to renew family ties and bring some camaraderie into the day’s proceedings.

The history of Memorial Day dates back to around the American Civil war where more than 600,000 soldiers from either side of the divide laid down their lives among who were young men, women and in some cases children too.

The habit of decorating the graves began as a tradition with the women of the Confederate Army decorating the graves of their dead which was also followed by the women and families of those who died from the Union Army.

It is also believed that after that infamous battle at Charleston, in South Carolina on May 1st 1865 the African American community too began commemorating their dead.

Federal Holidays of the USA by Year