Memorial Day 2024

Monday we celebrate Memorial Day, the day we honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Marys, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Originally called Decoration Day, this federal holiday dates back to just after the Civil War, as a way to remember and honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed in battle during that war. In 1868, 30 May was officially proclaimed as the day to decorate Civil War graves. After WWI Memorial Day was extended to honor Americans who died in all wars. Today, many Americans use this holiday as a time to decorate any grave site, whether the deceased served in the military or not.

Memorial Day was declared a U.S. federal holiday in 1971 and is now observed the last Monday in May. In December 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed, which asks all Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. local time and reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.

The entire month of May is Military Appreciation Month, officially designated by Congress in 1999 to remind Americans to celebrate this patriotic month that pays tribute to those who have made sacrifices for our freedom.

Although the entire month of May is designated to honor military members and their families, past and present, several specific military holidays occur throughout the month of May. In 2024 these military holiday dates are Loyalty Day (1 May), VE Day (8 May), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (10 May/Friday before Mother’s Day), Children of Fallen Patriots Day (13 May), Armed Forces Day (18 May), Maritime Day (22 May), and Memorial Day (27 May). 

Most towns in our area will have a Memorial Day ceremony at local cemetery, conducted by the local American Legion and/or VFW, who also mark all veterans’ graves with an American flag. A big Thank You to all those volunteers. Many towns will also have a Memorial Day parade.

Proper flag etiquette on Memorial Day: The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon and then raised to full-staff. During a parade there may be several participants with a flag and it is appropriate to salute only the first flag as it passes by. As the first flag passes everyone should show respect by standing at attention with their right hand over their heart. Those in uniform should give their appropriate formal salute.

In addition to honoring the fallen military members, Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer.

Wishing everyone a nice Memorial Day as we honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country and for our freedom.

Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have.
Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have.

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