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Memorial Day in United States

Quick Facts

Memorial Day commemorates all Americans, who have died in military service for the United States.

Local names

NameLanguage
Memorial DayEnglish
Día de la MemoriaSpanish
יום הזיכרון (ארצות הברית)Hebrew
يوم الذكرىArabic
메모리얼 데이Korean
Gedenktag (Memorial Day)German

Alternative name

Decoration Day

Memorial Day 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015
List of dates for other years

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

USA memorial day

Memorial Day remembers those who died serving the United States military.

©iStockphoto.com/ Alan Crosthwaite

What do people do?

It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half mast from dawn until noon. 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 combined with Jefferson Davis' Birthday in Mississippi.

Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance. Many people choose to hold picnics, sports events and family gatherings on this weekend. This day is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season for cultural events. For the fashion conscious, it is seen as acceptable to wear white clothing, particularly shoes from Memorial Day until Labor Day. However, fewer and fewer people follow this rule and many wear white clothing throughout the year.

Public life

Memorial Day is a federal holiday. All non-essential Government offices are closed, as are schools, businesses and other organizations. Most public transit systems do not run on their regular schedule. Many people see Memorial Day weekend as an opportunity to go on a short vacation or visit family or friends. This can cause some congestion on highways and at airports.

Background

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. It 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. The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

Memorial Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
MonMay 281990Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 271991Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 251992Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 311993Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 301994Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 291995Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 271996Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 261997Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 251998Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 311999Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 292000Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 282001Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 272002Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 262003Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 312004Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 302005Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 292006Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 282007Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 262008Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 252009Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 312010Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 302011Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 282012Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 272013Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 262014Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 252015Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 302016Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 292017Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 282018Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 272019Memorial DayNational holiday 
MonMay 252020Memorial DayNational holiday 

Related holidays

Other holidays in May 2014 in United States

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