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Patriotic American Holidays - Memorial Day

Updated on October 22, 2014
by Jim [CC-BY-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
by Jim [CC-BY-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Memorial Day - An American Patriotic Holiday

Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, is officially set aside as a time to honor the memory of the brave souls who have died while serving in the United States military. It's a patriotic American holiday set aside for remembrance.

Though we fly the American Flag, and may attend a parade, featuring living American patriots, sometimes we forget to really remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.

Memorial Day has now expanded into Memorial Weekend, so It's also a family time. Many workers are given Monday off, and have extra time to spend enjoying the company of family and friends. Many will have a backyard barbeque or some other activity that heralds the coming of the summer season.

Public Domain, via WikiMedia Commons
Public Domain, via WikiMedia Commons | Source

When is Memorial Day?

The Last Monday in May!

Memorial Day was originally called "Decoration Day," because of the practice of honoring slain soldiers by decorating their graves with wreaths, flowers, or small American Flags.

The first recorded official instance of a Decoration Day was in 1866, in Waterloo, New York, on May 5.

Although the dates varied from state to state, by the end of the 1800's most every state had an official Decoration Day, with Michigan being the first to declare the day an official obsrvance, in 1871. Beginning in the 1880's the use of the name Memorial Day was beginning to be used, and both names existed for some time.

it wsn't until 1967 that Federal Law made Memorial Day the official name of the national holiday. The very next year, it was made a 'movable' holiday to create a three day weekend, and the practice of observing the day on May 30 ended. Since then, it has been the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is observed on

the last Monday in May.

Fly the Flag - On All Patriotic Occasions

Even if you don't fly the flag on a daily basis, there are some special times you'll surely want to do it, and this is one of those times.

On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half staff in the morning, and raised to full staff at noon.

What do you think about Memorial Day?

See results
from Zazzle, where the author of this page is an affiliate and contributor
from Zazzle, where the author of this page is an affiliate and contributor | Source

Wear a Red Poppy - To Remember Them

Veterans across the nation make red paper poppies for this American holiday. Many patriotic Americans wear them as a remembrance on Memorial Day. But, did you know that it was actually a Canadian who wrote a poem that started the whole idea?

You can probably get a Memorial Day Poppy from a local VFW member, in exchange for a donation, the amount of which is usually up to you.

There's a history behind these poppies, and it is connected with the touching poem "In Flanders Field." It begins with: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow; Between the crosses, row on row . . . "

If you'd like to read the whole poem, you can, on a page called the Story Behind the Poppy.

Three Things to Do


1 - Fly The Flag at half staff until noon, and at full staff afterwards.

2 - A slient Moment of Rememberance at 3:00 pm.

3 - Wear a red Memorial Day Poppy to honor their ultimate sacrifice.

Activities on Memorial Day

public domain image from Wikipedia via Flickr
public domain image from Wikipedia via Flickr | Source

Some of the Official and Traditional Activities

The traditional National Moment of Rememberance takes place at 3:00 pm.

Memorial Day Parades are held in many communities. The oldest is the one in Ironton, Ohio, which has been held since 1868.

In Washington, D.C., the National Memorial Day Concert is held on the lawn of the U.S. Capital building.

The racing world pays tribute to our war heroes at two of their important races, The Indianapolis 500, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011; and the Coca-Cola 600, which is 50 years old. Both take place the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, and pre-race ceremonies both include special recognition of our military, including the playing of "Taps." The fly-over at the Indy 500 just takes your breath away when you experience it in person.

Many communities hold special observances, including memorial services, the decorating of the graves of soldiers, community picnics, and other activities.

Display a Patriotic Garden Flag - On Memorial Day, and Other Special Days

Display a Patriotic Garden Flag on Memorial Day!

There are so many beautiful patriotic garden flags available that you may have trouble choosing one!

But, when you've found your favorite, you'll have a number of occasions to display it:

Memorial Day

Flag Day

Fourth of July

Veterans Day

September 11

Pearl Harbor Day

public domain image from wikipedia
public domain image from wikipedia | Source

Families on Memorial Weekend

Family Activities

Like many other families across the land, ours gets together on Memorial Day Weekend. It's our tradition to watch the Indianapolis 500 together as a family. But, we don't forget the original purpose of the holiday, either.

My dad couldn't enlist in WWII, but he did his part at home by working on aircraft engines. And he was a life long open wheel racing fan... as well as a sometime race car driver. The Indy 500 was very special to him, and we always feel his spirit with us on that day.

It may sound silly to some, but the whole family stands silently, hands over hearts, for the National Anthem before the race and for the playing of Taps, too. And we eagerly watch for the military aircraft fly-over that always takes place before the race. There is usually an honor guard with representatives from all branches of the service, and it's an important part of the pre-race festivities. Indy is steeped in tradition, and the honoring of the brave is a big part of that tradition.

And guess what? In our home, we DO observe the National Moment of Rememberance at 3 PM on Memorial Day. I guess i'm an unabashedly patriotic American.

Stars and Stripes - for Your Weekend Feast

If you're planning big family gathering, make it festive with red, white and blue dining accessories. Whether you're dining indoors or having a backyard barbecue, you'll be happy to have something special to use for your patriotic event.

God Bless America

and those who've

given their all to

keep her free.

How does YOUR family observe Memorial Day? Do you love American holidays?

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    • dakadare profile image


      6 years ago

      I am Australian so don't observe Memorial Day, but we have just a couple of weeks ago observed our version that we call ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      6 years ago from Keller, Texas

      We usually head to the National Cemetery where my veteran father is buried. We also place great significance on being together as a family that day and usually have a get together with friends. We also put mini-flags in the ground lining our sidewalk. Patriotic music is a must all day long.

    • nicenet profile image


      6 years ago

      GOD bless the families of the departed.

    • rray001 lm profile image

      rray001 lm 

      6 years ago


      This is a great lens, thanks for helping us remember those that are not with us.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We need to honor those that served our country. Well deserved LotD!

    • CruiseReady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @anonymous: It was actually a Canadian who wrote the "In Flanders Field" poem, which inspired the use of red poppies for the American holiday.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just found it interesting that you promote a shop called CanadianGear on a lens devoted to a US holiday

    • goldenrulecomics profile image


      6 years ago from New Jersey

      very nicely done!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Well done tribute. Thank you for publishing this lens. And congratulations on receiving the LOTD.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      6 years ago from Concord VA

      We had a family party on Saturday. Congratulations on LotD! Happy Memorial Day!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We love patriotic holidays and try to remember the real reason for Memorial Day. We really enjoy watching the very touching Memorial Day Concert from Washington, D.C. And of course we have picnics when family work schedules allow. Thanks for the lessons in this lens and congratulations on your red, white, and blue Lens of the Day!

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 

      6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Respect for all those who gave their lives to defend our freedom!

    • junebugco profile image


      6 years ago

      God Bless America and thank you to those that paid the ultimate price. Nice Lens to honor Memorial Day.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I am Canadian so we celebrate Victoria day the weekend before your Memorial day celebrations.

    • mcajaclyn profile image


      6 years ago

      What a great lens. So many people forget the real meaning behind memorial day and get caught up in the long weekend and having cookouts but everyone should take time out of the day to remember the falling. I lost an uncle in Vietnam and though i never met him(only 21 years old) I am forever greatful and every memorial day i see the pain in my grandmother's eyes as she mourns her fallen son.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @Lensmaster...Rarely miss the Memorial Day Concert broadcast from the lawn of the USA Capitol building. Get togethers include watching the local Memorial Day Parade with our local heroes marching, picnicking, and family fun. Congratulations on LotD and the Purple Star on this Lens, which is tastefully done!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      6 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      The Memorial Day Concert Last Night was amazing! Well done on LOTD!

    • junkcat profile image


      6 years ago

      We I was in high school we used to march in a Memorial Day Parade.

    • Normyo Yonormyo profile image

      Normyo Yonormyo 

      7 years ago

      Never knew anything about memorial day as a Dutch citizen, but it is comparable with our end of world war 2 day on the 4th of may. Only we also remember all citizens who died during the wars and other violent action the last sixty years.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice to bring everyone's attention back to the things that matter. Great lens.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 

      7 years ago from Florida

      My dad served 20 years in the service and fought in the Korean and World War II. All service men and women need to be honored for serving our country. My brother told me how tough it was on service people coming back from the Vietnam war.

    • LynetteBell profile image


      7 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      We celebrate ANZAC Day in NZ and it is in April...I also remember on 11 November as that is the remembrance day of my country of birth.

    • bensen32 lm profile image

      bensen32 lm 

      7 years ago

      I'm a Marine Vet and love the American Holidays. Our Family gets together every year and every year I come up with new questions for the kids about past wars or famous military members and by the end of the day they have to come up with the answers. They get small prizes for the correct answers. it's fun and they learn something about our military history.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      7 years ago from Texas

      We have a BBQ on the Sunday before, and take a group photo under the flag pole. On Monday, I head to DFW National cemetery to honor my late husband, and the others who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Yes, I love American holidays, and am definitely a proud American!

      Great article... a reminder of what Memorial Day is all about! **Blessed**

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Valuable information Memorial Day Special got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Thumbs up

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      7 years ago from Hollister, MO

      We have no particular traditions for this holiday... it varies from year to year! ;-)

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 

      7 years ago

      This is such an important holiday, a day when we can put politics aside and simply honor the men and women who have kept us safe. Thank you.

    • agoofyidea profile image


      7 years ago

      I alway wear a poppy that I get from the veterans outside stores. It is important to remember the past, or else we are destined to repeat it.

    • CruiseReady profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      @Brandi Bush: Thank you so much!

    • Brandi Bush profile image


      7 years ago from Maryland

      Thank you for suggesting this lens for my Celebrate America lens. I added this and also your Independence Day lens to a new section I created for American Holidays. :) Thanks so much!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I always seem to get Memorial Day confused with Armistice Day (which was the end of WW1 I believe?). I didn't know it started in the 1860s which I guess had to do with the end of the Civil War. This is a great informative hub for me!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      So wonderful lens. Congratulations on your purple star here. You're very very well deserved it. So happy and proud to visit this beautiful lens. Have a wonderful time.. always.. dear, CruiseReady :)

    • Richard-H profile image


      8 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Wonderful tribute and reminder of those who sacrificed their lives.

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      8 years ago

      My grandfather, who was a Seabee in WWII, died just before Memorial Day weekend. His wake was during the weekend and his funeral was on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. It was a moving tribute to his service.

    • Paul Ward profile image


      8 years ago from Liverpool, England

      The most powerful quotation I can think of is the one from Binyon's poem, used on British Legion memorials, the last two lines of:

      They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

      Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

      At the going down of the sun and in the morning

      We will remember them.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I do love American patriotic holidays and truly appreciate our troops!

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      8 years ago from McLaughlin

      I believe we have to educate the younger generations about what Memorial Day is suppose to commemorate.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Well worth the purple star.

    • CruiseReady profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from East Central Florida

      @OhMe: Oh, yes, Flag day! Thank yo for the reminder.

    • DuaneJ profile image


      8 years ago

      fabulous lens! Thanks for highlighting the real meaning behind this solemn day.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens and great work here! Congratulations on your purple star!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congratulations on getting the purple star. Your lens is inspiring, thanks for sharing. Just stopping in to say Hi and to wish you a wonderful weekend.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image


      8 years ago

      I enjoyed my visit to your lens. It was presented beautifully.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      How fitting to earn a Purple Star for the lens that makes me also think of those who have been recognized with a Purple Heart. Let us all remember to pause in gratitude for those who have made our country the Land of the Free. Great sacrifices have been offered up and sometimes it is easy to take them for granted. Congrats for your wonderful honor.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      8 years ago

      God bless America on every day. Lovely tribute to Memorial Day in the states.


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