Memorial Day is a federal/public holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Unofficially, it is also seen as the start of the summer and usually has picnics and BBQs.

  • Since 1868, Pennsylvania, has held annual Memorial Day parades!

  • In 2000, United States Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 pm.

Traditions

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised to the top of the staff (flag pole) and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon, then raised for the rest of the day.

On the west lawn of the United States Capitol, there is a National Memorial Day Concert is broadcasted on TV, and respect is paid to the people who gave their lives for their country.

There are thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities, with marching bands. a military theme with the Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, and Veteran service members participating along with military vehicles from various wars.

military marchingPhoto by Dave Lowe on Unsplash

Symbols

In 1915, following the Second Battle of Ypres, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian MIlitary, wrote the poem, "In Flanders Fields". Its opening lines refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers' graves in Flanders.

In 1920, the National American Legion adopted it as its official symbol of remembrance.

Legion Magazine and Leonard Cohen released a 100th-anniversary recording of the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

Similar Holidays In Other Countries

  • ANZAC Day, April 25, e in Australia and New Zealand

  • Armistice Day, November 11, the original name of Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Commonwealth nations

  • Heroes' Day, various dates in various countries recognizing national heroes

  • International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, May 29, international observance recognizing United Nations peacekeepers

  • Remembrance Day, November 11, a similar observance in Canada, the United Kingdom, and many other Commonwealth nations originally marking the end of World War I

  • Remembrance of the Dead ("Dodenherdenking"), May 4, a similar observance in the Netherlands

  • Volkstrauertag ("People's Mourning Day"), a similar observance in Germany usually in November

  • Yom Hazikaron (Israeli memorial day), the day before Independence Day (Israel), around Iyar 4

  • Memorial Day (South Korea), June 6, the day to commemorate the men and women who died during the Korean War and other significant wars or battles

    War memorialPhoto by Cross-Keys Media on Unsplash

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Ways to celebrate Memorial Day!

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This Byte has been authored by

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Kassie Dwarika

Director of Content Programs | Debate Coach