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Encyclopedia > Memorial Day
Memorial Day
The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are graced by U.S. flags on Memorial Day.
Observed by United States
Type Federal (and most U.S. states)
Significance Honors dead
Date Last Monday in May
2008 date May 26
2009 date May 25
Observances visiting cemeteries

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May (observed in 2008 on May 26). It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911. It is also traditionally viewed as the beginning of summer by many, for many schools are dismissed around Memorial Day. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 586 pixelsFull resolution (1456 × 1066 pixel, file size: 1. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... In the United States, a Federal holiday is a holiday recognized by the United States Government. ... For military service in the meaning of an army as a military defense organization, see armed forces. ... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... “The Great War ” redirects here. ... “Indy 500” redirects here. ...

Contents

Traditional observance

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. Washington time. Another tradition is to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers place a U.S. flag upon each gravesite located in a National Cemetery. Castle Ashby Graveyard Northamptonshire A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. ... The memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii commemorates American dead from wars in the Pacific. ... For other uses, see Washington, D.C. (disambiguation). ... Flag ratio: 10:19; nicknames: Stars and Stripes, Old Glory The flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars... This does not cite any references or sources. ... A U.S. National Cemetery is a designation for nationally important cemeteries in the United States. ...

Many politicians and community leaders give speeches at community gatherings on Memorial Day.
Many politicians and community leaders give speeches at community gatherings on Memorial Day.

In addition to remembrance, Memorial Day is also a time for picnics, family gatherings, and sporting events. Some Americans view Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer and Labor Day as the unofficial end of the season. The national Click it or ticket campaign ramps up beginning Memorial Day weekend, noting the beginning of the most dangerous season for auto accidents and other safety related incidents. The USAF "101 Critical days of summer" also begin on this day as well. Some Americans use Memorial Day to also honor any family members who have died, not just servicemen. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... In contemporary usage, picnic can be defined simply as a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors, ideally, taking place in a beautiful landscape. ... A sport consists of a physical activity or skill carried out with a recreational purpose: for competition, for self-enjoyment, to attain excellence, for the development of a skill, or some combination of these. ... For other uses, see Summer (disambiguation). ... This article is about the holiday in the United States. ... Californias version of the campaign includes widespread placement of these traffic signs Click It or Ticket is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mobilization campaign aimed at increasing the use of seat belts among young people in the United States. ... Seal of the Air Force. ...

Flags flying at Fort Logan National Cemetery during Memorial Day 2006.
Flags flying at Fort Logan National Cemetery during Memorial Day 2006.

Memorial Day formerly occurred on May 30, and some, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), advocate returning to this fixed date, although the significance of the date is tenuous. The VFW stated in a 2002 Memorial Day Address, "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."[1] Hawaii's Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran, has repeatedly introduced measures to return Memorial Day to its traditional day since 1998. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2592x1944, 3657 KB) Licensing Fort Logan National Cemetery gravesites during Memorial Day Weekend. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2592x1944, 3657 KB) Licensing Fort Logan National Cemetery gravesites during Memorial Day Weekend. ... Fort Logan National Cemetery is a National cemetery in Denver, Colorado. ... is the 150th day of the year (151st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Veterans of Foreign Wars, or VFW, is an American organization whose members are current or former members of the U.S. armed forces. ... Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is the legal successor to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... Daniel Ken Inouye (born September 7, 1924) is a recipient of the Medal of Honor and currently serves as the senior United States Senator from Hawaii. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


History

Following the end of the Civil War, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. Some of the cities creating an early memorial day include Charleston, South Carolina; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; Carbondale, Illinois; Columbus, Mississippi; many communities in Vermont; and some two dozen other cities and towns. These observances eventually coalesced around Decoration Day, honoring the Union dead, and the several Confederate Memorial Days. Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... Nickname: Motto: Aedes Mores Juraque Curat (She cares for her temples, customs, and rights) Location of Charleston in South Carolina. ... Boalsburg is a census-designated place located in Centre County, Pennsylvania. ... Nickname: Motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra (Thus do we reach the stars) Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia Coordinates: , Country State Government  - Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (I) Area  - City 62. ... , Carbondale is a city in Southern Illinois in the midwest United States, about one hour north of Cairo. ... Columbus is a city in Lowndes County, Mississippi, United States on the Tombigbee River. ... A group of Confederate soldiers The Confederate States Army (CSA) was organized in February 1861 to defend the newly formed Confederate States of America from military action by the United States government during the American Civil War. ...

Decoration Day, c. 1900. "You bet I'm goin' to be a soldier, too, like my Uncle David, when I grow up."
Decoration Day, c. 1900. "You bet I'm goin' to be a soldier, too, like my Uncle David, when I grow up."

According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic. Yale redirects here. ...


The official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York. The village was credited with being the birthplace because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter, and because it is likely that the friendship of General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo, and General John A. Logan, who led the call for the day to be observed each year and helped spread the event nationwide, was a key factor in its growth. Waterloo is a village located in Seneca County, New York. ... is the 125th day of the year (126th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1866 (MDCCCLXVI) is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... For other persons with similar names, see John Logan. ...


General Logan had been impressed by the way the South honored their dead with a special day and decided the Union needed a similar day. Reportedly, Logan said that it was most fitting; that the ancients, especially the Greeks, had honored their dead, particularly their heroes, by chaplets of laurel and flowers, and that he intended to issue an order designating a day for decorating the grave of every soldier in the land, and if he could he would have made it a holiday. Binomial name Laurus nobilis L. The Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae), also known as True Laurel, Sweet Bay, Grecian Laurel, or just Laurel, is an evergreen tree or large shrub reaching 10–18 m tall, native to the Mediterranean region. ...


Logan had been the principal speaker in a citywide memorial observation on April 29, 1866, at a cemetery in Carbondale, Illinois, an event that likely gave him the idea to make it a national holiday. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization, Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle. The tombs of fallen Union soldiers were decorated in remembrance of this day. is the 119th day of the year (120th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1866 (MDCCCLXVI) is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... is the 125th day of the year (126th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1868 (MDCCCLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a leap year starting on Monday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Stephenson GAR Memorial, Washington, D.C. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who had served in the American Civil War. ... is the 150th day of the year (151st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the New York prison see The Tombs. ...


Many of the states of the U.S. South refused to celebrate Decoration Day, due to lingering hostility towards the Union Army and also because there were very few veterans of the Union Army who lived in the South. A notable exception was Columbus, Mississippi, which on April 25, 1866 at its Decoration Day commemorated both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery.[1] Historic Southern United States. ... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Columbus is a city in Lowndes County, Mississippi, United States on the Tombigbee River. ...

Troops at the Washington, D.C. Memorial Day parade, 1942

The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882, but did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967 . On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend and for the first time recognized Columbus Day as a federal holiday. The holidays included Washington's Birthday (which evolved into Presidents' Day), Veterans Day, and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971 . After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply at the state level, all fifty states adopted the measure within a few years, although Veterans Day was eventually changed back to its traditional date. Ironically, most corporate businesses no longer close on Columbus Day or Veterans Day, and an increasing number are staying open on President's Day as well. The holiday has endured as one where most businesses stay closed because it marks the beginning of the "summer vacation season" (similar to neighboring Canada's Victoria Day, which occurs on the prior Monday).[citation needed] Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 562 pixel Image in higher resolution (1024 × 719 pixel, file size: 99 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 562 pixel Image in higher resolution (1024 × 719 pixel, file size: 99 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... For other uses, see Washington, D.C. (disambiguation). ... Year 1882 (MDCCCLXXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... is the 179th day of the year (180th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives President of the Senate President pro tempore Dick Cheney, (R) since January 20, 2001 Robert C. Byrd, (D) since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D) since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political... The Uniform Monday Holiday Act (public law no. ... Columbus Day is a holiday celebrating the anniversary of Christopher Columbuss arrival in the Americas, which happened on the October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar, or October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... Presidents Day is the common name for the United States federal holiday officially designated as Washingtons Birthday. ... For Veterans Day in the United Kingdom, see Veterans Day UK. President Eisenhower signs HR7786, officially changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. ... Queen Elizabeth II in Canada for her official birthday, Victoria Day 2005, Edmonton, Alberta Victoria Day (French: Fête de la Reine) is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday before or on May 24 in honour of both Queen Victorias birthday and the current reigning Canadian...


Similar observances in other countries

Given its origins in the American Civil War, Memorial Day is not a holiday outside the United States. Countries of the British Commonwealth, as well as France and Belgium, honor members of the military who died in war on Remembrance Day, on or around November 11, the date on which World War I came to an end in 1918. The U.S. observes that date as Veterans Day (originally Armistice Day), which honors all veterans, living and dead. People from The Netherlands honor fallen soldiers and civil victims from World War II, but also from wars in Indonesia and other wars, on May 4th, 1 day prior to "Bevrijdingsdag" (Liberation Day in honor of liberation from Nazi Germany on May 5th, 1945).In Ireland, the National Day of Commemoration commemorates all Irish men and women who died in past wars or in service with the United Nations. In Israel, Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) is observed one day prior to Independence Day. South Korea observes 현충일 Hyeonchung-il ('Memorial day') on June 6, which honors both military dead and fallen police officers. In Australia and New Zealand, 25 April is observed as ANZAC day, a remembrance of the people who died at Gallipoli during World War I. Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... The Commonwealth of Nations as of 2007 Headquarters Marlborough House, London, UK Official languages English Membership 53 sovereign states Leaders  -  Queen Elizabeth II  -  Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma Appointed 24 November 2007 Establishment  -  Balfour Declaration 18 November 1926   -  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931   -  London Declaration 28 April 1949  Area  -  Total... Remembrance Day also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day (the event it commemorates), or Veterans Day in the United States is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. ... is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... “The Great War ” redirects here. ... For Veterans Day in the United Kingdom, see Veterans Day UK. President Eisenhower signs HR7786, officially changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. ... Armistice Day Celebrations in Toronto, Canada - 1918 Armistice Day is the anniversary of the official end of World War I, November 11, 1918. ... Motto: Je Maintiendrai (Dutch: Ik zal handhaven, English: I Shall Uphold) Anthem: Wilhelmus van Nassouwe Capital Amsterdam1 Largest city Amsterdam Official language(s) Dutch2 Government Parliamentary democracy Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Beatrix  - Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende Independence Eighty Years War   - Declared July 26, 1581   - Recognised January 30, 1648 (by Spain... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ... The National Day of Commemoration, of Ireland, is held annually in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham on the Sunday nearest July 11 (see Irish Calendar), the anniversary of the date in 1921 that a truce was signed ending the Irish War of Independence. ... UN redirects here. ... Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day, Hebrew: יום הזכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל ונפגעי פעולות האיבה, Israel Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day) is an Israeli national holiday. ... is the 157th day of the year (158th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 115th day of the year (116th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Anzac Day is commemorated by Australia and New Zealand on 25 April every year to remember members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who landed at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Anzac Day is also a public holiday in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and... For other uses, see Gallipoli (disambiguation). ... “The Great War ” redirects here. ...


In literature and music

The southeastern U.S. celebrates Decoration Day as a day to decorate the graves of all family members, and it is not reserved for those who served in the military. The region observes Decoration Day the Sunday before Memorial Day. Jason Isbell of the rock band Drive-By Truckers chronicled such an event in his epic ballad "Decoration Day," which is also the title cut to the eponymous album. Drive-By Truckers are a rock/alt-country/cowpunk (their website actually calls them a psychobilly band) band based in Athens, Georgia, though three out of five members (Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, and Shonna Tucker) originally hail from The Shoals region of Northern Alabama. ... Decoration Day is a rock/alt-country album released by Drive-By Truckers in 2003. ...


Charles Ives's symphonic poem "Decoration Day" depicts the holiday as he experienced it in his childhood, with his father's band leading the way to the town cemetery, the playing of Taps on a trumpet, and a livelier march tune on the way back to the town. It is frequently played with three other Ives works based on holidays as the second movement of A New England Holidays Symphony. This photo from around 1913 shows Ives in his day job. He was the director of a successful insurance agency. ... Taps (Butterfields Lullaby), sometimes known by the lyrics of its second verse, Day is Done, is a famous musical piece, played in the U.S. military during flag ceremonies and funerals, generally on bugle or trumpet. ...


See also

Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day (Tennessee) and Confederate Heroes Day (Texas), is a holiday in parts of the United States. ... Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is Canadas national holiday, marking the establishment of Canada as a self-governing Dominion on July 1, 1867. ...

References

  1. ^ Mechant, David (2007-04-28). Memorial Day History. Retrieved on 2007-05-26.

Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 146th day of the year (147th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

In the United States, a Federal holiday is a holiday recognized by the United States Government. ... This article is about the date January 1 in the Gregorian calendar. ... Martin Luther King Jr. ... Inauguration Day 2005 of President George W. Bush on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol. ... Presidents Day (or Presidents Day), is the common name for the federal holiday officially designated as Linclon Birthday, and both variants are among the official names of a number of coinciding state holidays. ... Fourth of July redirects here. ... This article is about the holiday in the United States. ... Columbus Day is a holiday celebrating the anniversary of Christopher Columbuss arrival in the Americas, which happened on the October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar, or October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar. ... For Veterans Day in the United Kingdom, see Veterans Day UK. President Eisenhower signs HR7786, officially changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. ... For the Canadian holiday, see Thanksgiving (Canada). ... For other uses, see Christmas (disambiguation). ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Memorial Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1104 words)
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May (scheduled next for May 29th, 2006).
Memorial Day has traditionally occurred on May 30, and some, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), advocate returning to this fixed date.
Because of its origin as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, Memorial Day is generally not observed in many parts of the American South.
Memorial Day - MSN Encarta (520 words)
Memorial Day, legal holiday observed annually on the last Monday in May in the United States, in honor of the nation’s armed services personnel killed in wartime.
Memorial Day is marked by parades, speeches, and the decoration of graves.
Confederate Memorial Day is observed on the fourth Monday in April in Alabama, the last Monday in April in Mississippi, April 26 in Georgia, May 10 in North Carolina and South Carolina, the last Monday in May in Virginia, and June 3 in Louisiana.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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