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How to Celebrate the History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday celebrated on the last Monday of May. Here are some ways to observe the history of the day.


  • Step 1: Observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day. The U.S. Congress formalized this custom by signing it into law in December 2000. Spend the day and remember all of those who have fought and died for our country.
  • FACT: The ancient Athenians honored their war dead with a public procession, funeral, and annual celebration.
  • Step 2: Wear a red poppy -- real or artificial -- on your lapel to honor those who gave their lives for their country. This custom can be traced to a poem called "We Shall Keep the Faith."
  • TIP: Every year on Memorial Day, a small American flag is placed on each grave.
  • Step 3: Turn your thoughts to the American Civil War. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War.
  • Step 4: Pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The first large observance of the Memorial Day was held there in 1868.
  • Step 5: Go to Waterloo, New York. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared this town the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866.

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