In the United States, Memorial Day celebrated this upcoming Monday carries with it many connotations.
First and foremost, it is a day of remembrance for the thousands of military service people.
Originally called Decoration Day, the observance came into being following the American Civil War. The devastating number of those lost in that conflict necessitated the creation of large-scale military cemeteries such as Arlington and Gettysburg. 144 such burial grounds have come into being across the country since that time.
Origins of Memorial Day
It is believed that the first Decoration Day was held in 1861 near Warrenton, Virginia. Over time, it was decided that Memorial Day should be observed on the final Monday in May, when flowers would be in full-bloom. On Memorial Day, it is traditional for flags to be flown at half-staff until noon, and for the graves of veterans to be decorated with flags, as well.
Significance of Memorial Day
Today, the holiday has taken on additional meaning. Memorial Day signifies the ceremonial start of summer, and Americans celebrate with cookouts, commemorative parades, and the famed Indianapolis 500 auto race. Americans look forward to a long Memorial Day weekend, fireworks, and other related festivities.
In addition to decorating the veterans, Americans take the opportunity to remember all family members who have gone before them. This year, Memorial Day will be recognized on May 27th and for many marks the start of summer.