Memorial Day: More than Picnics and Parades

May 22, 2009

Memorial Day signals the arrival of summer. Swimming pools open, you can officially wear white (is my age showing?), gas prices rise, and the weekend barbeques begin. In school we learned that Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan and was widely observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The tradition moved from placing flowers to placing flags at the graves of fallen soldiers and still continues today. Women have served the United States military since the Revolutionary War; however, women were not supposed to serve in combat and still do not receive the same recognition as their male counterparts.

If you are in Washington, D.C., this weekend, you can

Crowds will flock to the Iwo Jima, World War II, and Vietnam Veterans memorials and Arlington National Cemetery to remember those who gave their lives. Take time to visit the lesser-known memorials as well: the African American Civil War, D.C. World War I, Korean War Veterans, United States Air Force, United States Navy, and Women in Vietnam memorials. To our veterans and those in uniform today, thank you!

How will you celebrate this Memorial Day?

Claudia Richards By:   |   May 22, 2009


  1. Avatar Flora Gray says:

    I was heading south out of DC with my son and niece on Sunday and we thought there had been a major accident on an overpass due to a lot of fire engines and people gathered there. It took me a moment to see all of the flags and hear cheers for the cyclists heading into town to honor veterans in the annual Rolling Thunder event. In our short ride we saw hundreds of riders and just as many spectators gathered along highway overpasses to welcome them. It was a great reminder of what Memorial Day is really about.

  2. Avatar kathryn says:

    weather permitting, i will be going to the memorial day concert at the capitol. I went last year, and it was amazing. This year, I am going to be more prepared with a picnic!

  3. Christy Christy says:

    My dad is a West Point grad and a WWII vet. I grew up honoring all military personnel killed in action every Memorial Day. With three daughters (as well as one son), he took care to make sure we honored women who died too. He also taught us to question authority, was against an all volunteer army and made sure we all heard his anger over “bad” political decisions that caused “needless loss of life.”

    Last year on Memorial Day he came down and we went to the WWII memorial and the Women in Vietnam memorial. This year illness prevents his visit, but I know we will be honoring these individuals as we always do, even if it’s a silent toast raised and clinked through telephone wires.

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