Memorial Day

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by Tiffini Theisen at

Observed the last Monday in May, Memorial Day honors those who lost their lives while in service to the United States during peace and war.

Memorial Day 2023 is on Monday, May 29.

Memorial Day is not a celebration, but is a solemn day to reflect on veterans and military personnel who are deceased.

Memorial Day originally honored the Civil War dead, and now honors all service members and veterans who died while in service to the United States during peace and war. This includes the 12 major wars the United States has fought, in addition to other conflicts.

Memorial Day was previously known as Decoration Day, although especially in the South, the observance was also commonly called “Memorial Day” from the very beginning, in the 1860s.

In 1865, one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations — perhaps the very first — was organized by formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina, according to newspaper reports from that time. That was at least a year before other U.S. cities held similar events.

It wasn’t until three years later, however, that the observance officially began, in May 1868. It was known as “Decoration Day” from the practice of using spring flowers to decorate the gravesites of men who died while serving in the Civil War.

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