Memorial Day Countdown
until May 28, 2018
Memorial Day Facts and History
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated every year in the United States. The purpose of the holiday is to pay tribute to members of the U.S. military who died while in combat. Because the holiday is an official federal holiday, government offices are closed on Memorial Day as are public schools. Many companies give their employees a paid day off in honor of the event, and service businesses may have shortened hours to allow employees to celebrate with their families.
When Is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is always held on the last Monday in the month of May, so its date varies from year to year based on how the days fall. The Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day and the holiday are collectively known as Memorial Day weekend.
Because of the timing of the holiday, Memorial Day is often considered to be the first day of summer in the United States. Many seasonal businesses that operate during the summer like ice cream stands and outdoor swimming pools open for business during Memorial Day weekend.
The History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day can be traced back to ancient times when it first became customary to decorate the final resting places of soldiers. Americans often decorated the graves of members of the military who died during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and other American conflicts throughout the years, but there was no official holiday to pay tribute to them until the time of the Civil War when communities began gathering together in the north and the south to decorate the graves of the men who died in the battles.
There is much debate over where the first Memorial Day celebration took place, but historians generally agree that it took place sometime during the 1860s. In 1868, there were events held at 183 cemeteries, and nearly double the number of cemeteries held events the following year. Because the ceremonies involved decorating graves, the holiday was first known as Decoration Day. The name “Memorial Day” was adopted in 1882.
The date for Memorial Day was decided on June, 28, 1968, and the holiday has been held at the end of May on Monday every year since. Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the U.S. when the law was signed.
How Memorial Day Is Celebrated
Today, Memorial Day is still celebrated by decorating the graves of soldiers. In some cases, this is done privately by family members, while in other instances, the entire community turns out for the event. At 3:00PM, some people pause for a moment of silence to remember all of the soldiers who have given their lives for the United States since the founding of the country.
Every year, the National Memorial Day Concert is held at the U.S. Capitol building to honor soldiers and is broadcasted live on public radio. Because many people have Memorial Day off from work, many families spend the day together. Like other summer holidays, Memorial Day is often celebrated with barbecues and picnics.