Memorial Day is a holiday observed in the United States honoring the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the United States Military. This holiday is observed every year on the last Monday of May. Having originated following the Civil War, its original name was Decoration Day. Memorial Day became an official holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting memorials, cemeteries, attending parades, or having family gatherings.
There were more lives lost in the Civil War than any other war in US history, resulting in the establishment of the nation’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1800s, many Americans had started holding tributes to fallen soldiers by placing flowers on their graves and citing prayers. In 1966 the federal government nationally declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day. John A. Logan, an American soldier and political leader, requested nationwide observance of these soldiers.
Memorial Day was originally created to honor fallen soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in the Civil War. However after being embroiled in many conflicts during World War I, the United States decided to commemorate all military personnel who died while actively at war. For several years, Memorial Day was observed by many on May 30. In 1968, Congress later passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May. This same law declared Memorial holiday as a Federal Holiday.
To re-educate Americans on the history and purpose of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” was passed in December of 2000, asking at 3:00 p.m. that all Americans stop whatever they are doing and set aside a few moments to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Many cities across the United States host annual parades in celebration of Memorial Day, sometimes incorporating members of veterans organizations and military personnel. New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago host some of the largest parades in the United States. In addition to visiting memorials and cemeteries, many people host parties and have barbecues honoring these fallen soldiers.
Some other popular memorial day traditions/attractions include: Changing of the guard, National Memorial Day Parade, Arlington National Cemetery, Rolling Thunder Motor Cycle Ralley, US Marine Corps War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National World War II Memorial, and Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Source: Memorial Day