Featured Content May 22, 2019 - Designated as a national observance by 36 U.S.C. 116
Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, commemorates all the women and men who have died while in military service, and is designated by Federal law as the last Monday in May. 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 Veteran Affairs
36 U.S.C. 116 - Memorial Day
Federal law designates Memorial Day as a national observance and the last Monday in May.
Public Law 106 - 579 - National Moment of Remembrance Act - December 28, 2000
This Act 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.
“Our fallen heroes have not only written our history, they've shaped our destiny. They saved the lives of the men and women with whom they served. They cared for their families more than anything in the world. They love their families. They inspired their communities, uplifted their country, and provided the best example of courage, virtue, and valor the world will ever know. 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.”
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.
Search govinfo's Public Papers of the Presidents collection from 1991 - 2013, to read remarks made by U.S. Presidents at Memorial Day ceremonies.
Below are just a few examples.
Images on govinfo
Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I) Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2008, Book I)
President Clinton Observing Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, VA, May 25, 1998.
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: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)
Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2008, Book I)
Learn more about the history of Memorial Day on the Department of Veterans Affairs' website.