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The Story of Memorial Day

A time to think of soldiers who fell to give us freedom.

If you notice a yellow highlight on the page, hover over it for the definition!

Memorial Day is a day for Americans to honor and respect the military men and women who gave their lives to protect their country. They fought to keep our freedom. It is a day to remember our freedom comes at a high price.

Held the last Monday in May, it was first known as Decoration Day. It began at the end of the Civil War, which claimed more lives than any other conflict in America’s history. Due to so many deaths, the nation had to create cemeteries for the soldiers.

Towns started decorating their lost warriors’ graves in the late 1860s, but Memorial Day didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971.

No one knows where the tradition started, but Waterloo, New York, was named as the official place where it began. Waterloo had its first celebration on May 5, 1866.

The Red Poppy

Have you ever wondered why we see the red poppy on Memorial and Veterans Days? The tradition got its start during World War I in Europe. After battles ruined the land, the field poppy was one of the first plants to grow back.

Memorial Day Traditions

Memorial Day is normally celebrated with parades and gravesite visits. Military graves were decorated with flowers and flags, and people gathered to hear stories and songs.

This year, the Coronavirus lockdown has stopped people paying their respects in traditional ways. Instead, tributes are being made on television and the internet.



Try an online Memorial Day wordsearch!

Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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