Always held on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is one of America’s favorite holidays and the unofficial beginning of summer. Originally known as Decoration Day, we honor the fallen members of the U.S. military and give thanks to all who have served our country on Memorial Day.
A national moment of remembrance is held at 3:00 p.m. (local time) each year.
Memorial Day History
The Civil War was the deadliest conflict in American history and the country’s first national cemeteries were built as a result. In the aftermath of the war in the late 1860s, various U.S. towns and cities began to hold springtime memorials at these cemeteries, laying flowers on and praying over the graves of the Civil War’s fallen soldiers. This was the origin of Memorial Day.
Although it’s debatable on which city or town was the first to celebrate the holiday, Waterloo, NY was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day – Waterloo hosted an annual community event beginning in 1866. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
The National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. and Memorial Day Parade in Gettysburg, PA are two of the most popular and historical celebrations in the country.
Memorial Day Traditions
Many Americans celebrate Memorial Day by watching or participating in local parades and visiting military cemeteries. Another tradition that’s synonymous with Memorial Day is barbequing with family and friends. It should come as no surprise that May is National BBQ Month. Unlike other holidays, there’s no preferred Memorial Day dish, but grills across the U.S. are typically cooking beef brisket, pulled chicken, ribs, and more. Having the best BBQ sauce is also a point of pride for many gatherings, if not a secret family recipe.
Memorial Day is a great holiday because it gives us the opportunity to collectively honor our fallen soldiers, as well as celebrate life with our loved ones. For Memorial Day 2021, we bow our heads and give our eternal thanks to those who gave their lives in service to our country.