Memorial Day has become the traditional start to the summer season and many celebrate the entire weekend with outdoor activities, travel, commemorative events and other celebrations. Cookouts, retail sales, movie premieres are the norm these days around this last weekend in May. But, the holiday holds a much more meaningful purpose.
The origins of Memorial Day can be traced to the years following the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, it was set aside as a day of remembrance for those who perished while in service of the United States of America. General John Logan officially declared the holiday on May 5, 1868 and designated the 30th of May as the officially observed date. Today, the annual holiday is observed on the last Monday of May. This change was initiated by Congress in 1971 with the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
PBS has compiled a wealth of information regarding the history of the holiday, the meaning of the remembrance, suggestions for observing and a way to share your traditions.
One of the highlights of the activities of the weekend is the National Memorial Day Concert. Broadcast live on PBS, the concert is also provided to troops via the American Forces Network. Learn more about this year’s concert at:
For more information and resources about Memorial Day, we suggest visiting