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Memorial Day

Featured Content May 21, 2020 - A national observance on the last Monday in May


Memorial Day commemorates all the women and men who have died while in military service and will be observed this year on May 25, 2020, the last Monday in May as designated by Federal law (36 U.S.C. 116).

Begun in the late 1860's as Decoration Day, spring flowers were distributed at graves to honor those fallen in the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century, ceremonies were being held in cities across the country. In 1966, the Federal Government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs )

Public Law 106-579, signed into law December 28, 2000, designated 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day each year as the ‘‘National Moment of Remembrance" and created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.

Like President Grant in 1873, Presidents have continued to commemorate those who have died in service to the country by visiting Arlington National Cemetery and speaking to the nation.

 Stereograph of President Ulysses S. Grant and General John Logan seated at the flag-draped Old Amphitheater, Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia for Decoration Day ceremonies on May 30, 1873, Source: Library of Congress

Stereograph of President Ulysses S. Grant and General John Logan seated at the flag-draped Old Amphitheater, Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia for Decoration Day ceremonies on May 30, 1873, Source: Library of Congress


President Clinton Observing Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, VA, May 25, 1998.

President Clinton Observing Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, VA, May 25, 1998.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)


President George W. Bush attending a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery with Military District of Washington commander Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, Jr., USA, in Arlington, VA, May 26.

President George W. Bush attending a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery with Military District of Washington commander Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, Jr., USA, in Arlington, VA, May 26, 2008.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2008, Book I)


“Our fallen heroes have not only written our history, they've shaped our destiny...They fought and bled and died so that America would forever remain safe and strong and free. Each of the markers on that field—each of the names engraved in stone—teach us what it means to be loyal and faithful and proud and brave and righteous and true.”

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