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Memorial Day in San Diego

What Is The Meaning Of Memorial Day?

We celebrate Memorial Day every year at the end of May in the U.S. But what is Memorial day and what is its meaning? Memorial Day is an American holiday that usually falls on the last Monday of May. The purpose of the holiday is to honor those who died serving the U.S. military over the course of our history. Back in the day, Memorial Day was mostly a serious affair and was celebrated by visiting family, and paying tribute to cemeteries and memorials.

The History Of Memorial Day

After the Civil War, national cemeteries were made to honor the lives of those we lost. Because of the amount of the American casualties that resulted from the Civil War, families began paying tribute to their lost family members through decorating their gravestones and holding ceremonies.

We don’t know where the tradition started, however in 1966, the federal government deemed Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. In Waterloo, Memorial Day was taken so seriously, that businesses would close and residents would leave their homes to visit the graves of soldiers and decorate their stones.

Decoration Day is a holiday that took place on the 30th of May. It’s a day that was chosen because it doesn’t take place on any known battles. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at a cemetary where 5000 residents decorated the gravestones of the 20,000 soldiers who were buried there. Some say that Decoration Day slowly became Memorial Day as we presently know it.

Memorial Day (previously Decoration Day), started out as a day to honor those whose lives were lost in the Civil War. But after World War I, the U.S. decided that Memorial Day should be a day that we celebrate soldiers who served and lost their lives in all wars.

Memorial was originally observed on May 30th, the date that was selected for the first Decoration Day. However, in 1968 congress passed a bill that would establish Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. This ensured that when Memorial Day came around, federal employees would get a three day holiday weekend which deemed Memorial Day an official federal holiday.

Memorial Day Traditions

In contrary to the early celebrations of Memorial Day, these days on 2019 Memorial Day, most cities go all out when commemorating this holiday. Almost all major cities host parades for Memorial Day which incorporate veterans and members of the army each year in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. Sometimes poppies are worn on the lapel or somewhere on the shirt to signify remembrance. Also, because it’s the beginning of summer, let’s be honest, lots of families will opt to go away for the Memorial Day weekend or throw parties to enjoy the warmer weather.


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