Memorial Day: Behind its meaning and traditions
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, as its purpose was to visit cemeteries and place flowers on the graves of soldiers who had died in the Civil War. In 1882, people started calling it “Memorial Day,” and by the time World Wars I and II had ended, it had evolved into a day to honor all fallen military men and women, no matter what war they fought in.
Day of observation
Many communities claim to have created Memorial Day, but Waterloo, N.Y., which held its first celebrations of the day in 1866, was named the birthplace of the holiday by this important person.
In its 87th year, the Little Neck Douglastown Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., claims to be the largest Memorial Day parade in the nation, attracting an estimated 80,000-plus participants and spectators from across the tri-state area.
Search the U.S. Memorial Day Parade Directory to find an event near you.
After writing a poem about wearing a red poppy to honor the fallen, U.S. professor and humanitarian Moina Michael launched a tradition that would help raise funds for war widows and children who had lost a parent in service to the country.
Four years after Michael’s death, this was issued to commemorate the humanitarian efforts of the “Poppy Lady.”
On the Thursday before Memorial Day, more than 260,000 small American flags are placed exactly one boot length and center on the headstone at every gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.
What is the story behind the “flags in” tradition?
A moment of silence
An observance on Memorial Day that honors America’s fallen and families is the “National Moment of Remembrance,” a minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time.
Here’s how you can participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance” on Memorial Day.
Who said this quote? “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”