Memorial Day Meaning, Facts, and Celebration Ideas
Date of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. Here are the next few dates for Memorial Day:
- 2012: May 28th
- 2013: May 27th
- 2014: May 26th
- 2015: May 25th
- 2016: May 30th
Memorial Day Meaning and Facts
If you were asked what Memorial Day was about, how would you respond? Most likely you would answer that it is a three-day weekend for family and friend get-togethers or picnics. You would be right, in a way, because that is how most Americans view the holiday.
That was not the intended purpose, however, back in the mid 1800s after the Civil War.
Many men died during the Civil War, the brutal war between the North and South. After the war ended, people were looking for ways to honor the men who had died fighting in the war. In 1864, a group of women in Pennsylvania began visiting the graves of the deceased soldiers, placing flowers on them in memory of their service. In 1866, after word spread about visiting and decorating the graves, women in Mississippi began doing the same thing. This is how the day became known first as 'Decoration Day'.
It didn't originally begin as a celebration, but Waterloo, NY became the first place to be recognized as having the first celebration of the holiday. Other towns and cities have claimed to be the first, but it is Waterloo that holds the title.
On May 5, 1868, General John Logan made the day official. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at the Arlington National Cemetery.
After World War II, it became a day to honor all deceased veterans of any war or service instead of just those who had died in the Civil War. It never became a national holiday, as some think it to be. Rather, it became a Federal holiday to allow Civil War veterans the opportunity to help decorate graves at cemeteries without losing any pay.
I'm Proud to Be an American
How to Properly Observe Memorial Day
Here are some ways you can properly observe Memorial Day along with attending your annual family or friend gatherings:
- Visit cemeteries and place flowers and flags on the graves of fallen heroes
- Visit memorials dedicated to veterans
- Fly the flag at half-staff until noon
- Pause at 3 p.m. for the National Moment of Remembrance
- Visit disabled or wounded veterans and thank them for their service
Taps at Arlington National Cemetery
Memorial Day Celebrations
How do you celebrate Memorial Day?See results without voting
Memorial Day Ideas
Here are some things you can do to celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends:
- Attend a parade. Many towns and parades have annual Memorial Day parades. Wear your best red, white, and blue and attend the parade!
- Have a picnic. Picnics are very popular on Memorial Day. Every year, after decorating the graves of veterans from my family, my family gathers at a state park and has a large picnic where we spend the day together.
- Host a BBQ potluck. Gather your family and friends at your house and host a BBQ potluck. Everyone should bring at least one food item or drink that goes great with BBQ.
Memorial Day Picnic Menu
At our annual family Memorial Day picnic, we have so many great foods from which to choose:
- BBQ Chicken
- Potato Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Pasta Salad
- Fruit Salad
- Taco Dip
- Fresh Fruit
- Veggies and Dip
- Potato Chips
- Red, white, and blue trifle
- Red, white, and blue frosted cookies
Memorial Day Recipes
- Indoor S'mores Recipe : Easy and Delicious!
Want to make s'mores but can't make them outside? Try Indoor S'mores! Here's my quick and easy indoor s'mores recipe.
- How to Make Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled corn on the cob is more flavorful and delicious than boiled or steamed corn.
- How To Grill Fruit: Grilling Recipes
Grilling fruit is an excellent way to bring out the natural sugars and intensify flavors of your food
- Cold Salad Recipes: Southwestern 7 Layer Salad
Check out my southwestern 7 layer salad recpe. Photos included!
- How To Make The Best, Healthy, Fruit Salad On The Planet
- Spanish Olive Pasta Salad and 10 Other Vegetarian Pasta Salad Recipes
This can be used as a light main dish for a meal, especially these vegetarian pastas, or as a tasty side dish.
- How To Make The Ultimate Macaroni Salad
Macaroni salad is just one of those great comfort foods, and can be enjoyed any time of the year.
Memorial Day Clothing for Kids
Memorial Day Activities for Kids
Here are some Memorial Day activities for kids:
- Learn about the American flag and what it symbolizes
- Learn about veterans and why we should remember their service
- Write an acrostic poem using the following words: freedom, remembrance, veteran, Memorial Day
- Write Thank You notes to veterans and deliver them to veterans at hospitals or nursing homes
- Make your own parade with flags, homemade instruments, and red, white, and blue outfits
Remember to take lots of pictures, especially if your kids decide to hold a parade. These pictures can be great memories as well as great additions to the Thank You notes to veterans.
Memorial Day Kids Crafts
Here is a list of some simple Memorial Day crafts for kids:
- God Bless America door sign
- Red, white, and blue star wreath
- Red, white, and blue hand wreath
- Red, white, and blue foam sticker picture frame
- Red, white, and blue link streamer
Materials that can be used for crafts:
- Foam frame and stickers
- String (for door sign)
Memorial Day: Remember Our Fallen Heroes, and Enjoy the Company of Friends and Family
No matter what you do on Memorial Day with your family or friends, take some time to remember the true meaning of the holiday: to honor the deceased veterans who have served our country and fought for our freedoms.
Without their sacrifices, we wouldn't be the great country we are today.
Source for Historical Background of Memorial Day
- U.S. Memorial Day History and Information on U.S. War Memorials
A wonderful website dedicated to all things related to Memorial Day History.
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