Memorial Day represents a day of national awareness and reverence, honoring Americans who died while defending the nation and its values.
Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, honors service members who have died in all U.S. wars. Memorial Day differs from Veterans Day even though both federal holidays acknowledge military members. Veterans Day is an opportunity for Americans to publicly recognize living military veterans while Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of the valiant service members who have sacrificed their lives in service to the country.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War Soldiers.
Army Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the veterans’ organization, Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The law took effect in 1971 at the federal level. The National Moment of Remembrance established by Congress in 2000 sets aside a moment for all Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity.
The Army honors, remembers and recognizes the ultimate sacrifice made by fallen Soldiers. The Army will join the nation in observing Memorial Day by participating and hosting remembrance ceremonies, pausing for a moment of silence, visiting memorials, and placing American flags at gravesites.
The Army will continue to care for the survivors and Families of the fallen heroes as the nation owes them a debt of eternal gratitude. The Army is committed to providing on-going support to surviving Family members. Survivor Outreach Services offices will continue to provide supportive counseling, financial education, benefits coordination and support groups to Family members at the garrison and the surrounding areas.
Memorial Day is a time for those in uniform to reaffirm their commitment to selfless service. As men and women continue to serve and risk their lives around the world, the Army pauses on Memorial Day to remember the legacy of excellence of American Soldiers. Generations of heroes have given everything, not for glory or gratitude, but for something greater than themselves.