Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer — it was created to pay tribute to soldiers who have served in the U.S. military. The holiday, which dates back to the Civil War, has a rich history of honoring the men and women who have died for our country.
Originally, Memorial Day was meant to honor deceased Civil War soldiers by encouraging citizens to decorate their graves with flowers and flags. It was called Decoration Day. The tradition began on May 30, 1868 when General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery.
After General Garfield spoke, 5,000 people decorated the graves of over 20,000 soldiers laid to rest in the historic cemetery in Washington, D.C. The origin of the holiday is often contested, however, because many communities adopted a similar tradition. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day because the entire community recognized the holiday annually beginning on May 5, 1866 — two years earlier than Garfield’s Decoration Day.
Today, Memorial Day is celebrated throughout the country with a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery with a speech given by the president or vice-president and flags are placed at every one of the 300,000 soldiers’ graves.
Scroll through the slideshow below to see some of the most famous memorials in the U.S.
Located in Arlington Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the burial ground for soldiers whose names were lost after they died in war. There are several soldiers from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War laid to rest there. The tomb is constantly under guard, with soldiers serving 24 hour shifts to watch over the monument.
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This memorial, opened in 1995, commemorates the soldiers who served in the Korean War. It features a Pool of Remembrance and 19 statues. The statues represent a squad on patrol, dressed in full combat gear. There are also several memorial walls.
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The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial is located near Arlington National Cemetery in Rosslyn, Va. It is dedicated to all personnel of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) who have died defending their country since 1775.Photo Credit: Bigstock Images
Located in the nation's capital, this memorial honors U.S. military service members who fought in the Vietnam War. It is visited by nearly 3 million people each year and was listed among America's favorite architectures by the American Institute of Architects. Photo Credit: Bigstock Images
A big display of gold stars on the WWII memorial in Washington, DC. Each star represents 100 American deaths. Photo Credit: Bigstock Images
I think it’s good to have Memorial Day in the united states of America because it show that we care about the veterans that died for us. Plus on Memorial Day if u see a veterans go up and shake his or her hand. Plus on Memorial Day think about all the veterans that severe for are country.