Closest Center:

  (847) 485-0000
Find a Center



Today In History

Memorial Day

May-17, 2017

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States. This is a day we celebrate to honor the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. Memorial day is observed every year on the last Monday of May. This day is also originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, recognized it as a time for the nation to adorn the graves of the soldiers that died during theUnion War with flowers. But, by the 20th century, challenging Union and Confederate holiday traditions, it was celebrated on different days and had merged, Memorial Day finally extended to honor all the Americans who died while in the Army services. It marks the start of anunofficial summer vacation season, while you have Labor Day which marks its end.  You can see many people visiting the cemeteries and memorials, and many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Memorial Day

While you have the Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries which will be held on a Sunday in late spring or sometimes in the early summer in some rural areas of the American South, particularly in the mountain areas. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others. You will often have a religious service and a picnic-like dinner on the grounds; and the traditional term for a potluck meal at some churches. It is believed that this observe began before the American Civil War and thus it also reflects the real origin of the "memorial day" idea.

Do not get Memorial Day confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving for the country, and Veterans Day is celebrated in the service for all the U.S. military veterans.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday, and all non-essential Government offices remain closed. You will find most of the public transportation systems closed on their regular schedule. Plan this day and have a nice short vacation, or you can visit your friends or family. Be aware of the traffic congestion on highways and at airports.


As we know that Memorial Day started as an event to respect Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. The day was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day; however, the current name for this day did not come into use until after the World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30th, regardless of the day of the week, on which it falls. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. By the bill, this is meant that from 1971, Memorial Day has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all the American states to be familiar with the new date.