Every year, on the last Monday of the month of May, many Americans ask themselves what is Memorial Day, and what does this national holiday mean to them.
In essence, it is a day in which we remember those Americans who have died in wars.
The original name for the holiday was Decoration Day. It was first recognized following the American Civil War in order to give remembrance to the Union soldiers who fell during that conflict. By the 20th century, the official name had been designated, and its meaning was broadened to include all Americans – men and women – who have died while serving in the United States Armed forces in different battles and wars.
It is also considered a type of social marker to start summer holidays, as Labor Day is often recognized as its end.
When asking what is Memorial Day, though, it isn’t just the formal definition. It all depends on the individual and what it means to him or her. Many people visit memorials and cemeteries in order to take the time to honor those who have fallen while serving the military. Organizations will often hold more formal ceremonies and groups, volunteers, and individuals will frequently take a moment to place an American flag onto the grave markers of those soldiers.
In national cemeteries, volunteers will often use the day to ensure that every grave has received a flag to honor and remember the ultimate sacrifice that each individual had made.
Since the start of the 20th century, it has been a day in which the country, as a whole, expresses its memory for the military struggles that it has undergone, and what has been learned by the important gains and vital losses that were experienced throughout them.
Many individuals and families now choose to take this day to visit the grave markers of their deceased loved ones, regardless of whether or not they were involved in military service, expanding the meaning of the day – for some – to simply remember those who are no longer with us.
When asking what is Memorial Day, the definition can give you only the basics. The rest is up to you to decide.