May 27th, 2024

What Is Memorial Day and What Is Its Purpose?

Memorial Day is an American holiday held on the last Monday of May. It is a public holiday, so many schools, colleges, government buildings, and commercial businesses are closed for the day.

Also known as "D Day or Decoration Day, Memorial Day is designed to honor the lives of the US military who died fighting for their country. The first celebration was held on May 5, 1866, around 150 years ago.

Use the Memorial Day live countdown to see how many days until Memorial Day this year.

Why Do They Celebrate Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is celebrated in the US to remember and pay tribute to the lives of people who died fighting for their country.

The day of remembrance started around the time of the American Civil War. It was estimated around 620,000 men lost their lives during the war, around 2% of the population.

Other countries have similar days to remember the lives of military personnel.

For example, in the UK, Remembrance Sunday is held on the second week of November annually. It is designed to commemorate the lives of those lost in World War I and World War II, and all other personnel who died in service to their country.

France, Belgium, and Germany also have a holiday and day of remembrance on the second Sunday of November and on November 11. This is to mark the end of World War I and commemorate the armistice signed between the countries as a symbol of peace.

What Are Three Memorial Day Traditions?

Decoration Day in America is celebrated in three main ways. People primarily lay wreaths or flowers on the graves, tombs, and memorial statues of military personnel.

They also attend religious services, parades, and speeches across the country to reflect on the lives lost and celebrate what they gave their lives for.

Many people also wear red poppies pinned to their coats or jackets in the countdown to Memorial Day to show honor to the fallen.

It's generally frowned upon to wish people a happy memorial day. This is because the day is about showing honor and respect, and is not usually a happy celebration. This is unlike other US holidays, like Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day.