The last Monday in May
This holiday is not a day that Americans really celebrate. Instead, it has a quieter purpose. Memorial Day is a day to remember the people who have died in wars while they were defending our country. Most people also honor their own family members who have died. Memorial Day began soon after the Civil War ended in 1865. So many Americans were killed during the war that nearly every family in the country had a member who had died. The day was originally called "Decoration Day" because people would go to the cemeteries and decorate military graves with flags and flowers. For a long time nearly every state celebrated this day, but it was on different days. Then, in 1971, the federal government passed a law that changed the name officially to "Memorial Day" and put the celebration on the same day everywhere in the country.
Defendng (verb): protecting; keeping safe from danger
Decoration (noun): things that make something more beautiful
Cemeteries (noun): places where the dead are buried
Military (adjective): having to do with soldiers and war
Graves (noun): places where individual people are buried
Half-mast (adjective): when a flag is raised only halfway up the flagpole. This is to show repect and is only done when someone has died.
Veteran (noun): someone who was a soldier but isn't anymore
Ports (noun): places where ships come to land
Poppies (noun): a small red flower
One of my favorite holidays is Memorial Day. All of my brothers and sisters and their families come home to my parents' house in Maine. Early Monday morning, all of the men go fishing because it is the opening day of fishing season. Later that morning, we come home. After cleaning up, the whole family has a big lunch together. Then we all drive out to the cemetery where both of my grandfathers are buried. My dad tells us stories about them and the war in which they both died. He gets misty-eyed, as do the rest of us. We come home and look at old pictures of them and remember our other relatives that have passed on. By remembering the war in which they were involved and the freedom they were fighting for, we all appreciate the freedom we have today. (Luke, age 23, Maine)
Back to Holiday Main
Last modified on April 27, 1999.