Memorial Day in the United States
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.
What Do People Do?
It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half staff 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.
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.
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
|Weekday||Date||Year||Name||Holiday Type||Where It is Observed|
|Mon||May 31||2010||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 30||2011||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 28||2012||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 27||2013||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 26||2014||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 25||2015||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 30||2016||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 29||2017||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 28||2018||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 27||2019||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
|Mon||May 25||2020||Memorial Day||Federal Holiday|
Quick FactsMemorial Day commemorates all Americans who have died in military service for the United States.
Memorial Day 2016Monday, May 30, 2016
Memorial Day 2017Monday, May 29, 2017
Name in other languages
|Día de la Memoria||Spanish|
|יום הזיכרון (ארצות הברית)||Hebrew|
|Gedenktag (Memorial Day)||German|
- Peace Officers Memorial Day – Sunday, May 15, 2016
- State Holiday – Tuesday, January 19, 2016, Monday, April 25, 2016, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Other holidays in May 2017 in the United States
- Law Day – Monday, May 1, 2017
- Yom Ha'atzmaut – Tuesday, May 2, 2017
- Kent State Shootings Remembrance – Thursday, May 4, 2017
- Cinco de Mayo – Friday, May 5, 2017
- National Nurses Day – Saturday, May 6, 2017
- Truman Day – Monday, May 8, 2017
- State Holiday – Wednesday, May 10, 2017
- Lag BaOmer – Sunday, May 14, 2017
- Peace Officers Memorial Day – Monday, May 15, 2017
- National Defense Transportation Day – Friday, May 19, 2017
- Armed Forces Day – Saturday, May 20, 2017
- National Maritime Day – Monday, May 22, 2017
- Emergency Medical Services for Children Day – Wednesday, May 24, 2017
- Ascension Day – Thursday, May 25, 2017
- Ramadan starts – Saturday, May 27, 2017
- Jefferson Davis Birthday – Monday, May 29, 2017
- Shavuot – Wednesday, May 31, 2017