Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, was held on May 29 2017. The holiday was held on May 30 from 1868-1970. It marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
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Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War.
Some believe that an annual cemetery decoration practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea. Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are still held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather, put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the grounds,” the traditional term for a potluck meal at a church.