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Memorial Day

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A national observance on the last Monday in May to honor those who sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces

Memorial Day commemorates the women and men who have died while in military service, and it will be observed this year on May 30, 2022, the last Monday in May as designated by Federal law (36 U.S.C. 116).

Ceremony Call – Service members participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., April 21, 2022. Source: Department of Defense

“Remember those who gave their all in the service of America, in the service of freedom, in the service of justice. Remember their sacrifice, their valor, and their grace. Remember their smiles; their loves; their laughter; their essential, vibrant, and transcendent humanity. For while we stand amid monuments of stone, we must never forget that each of these markers, for those known and unknown, here at Arlington and far beyond represent a precious life: a son, a daughter, a mother, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a friend, a neighbor.”

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: The Origins of Memorial Day, Department of Veterans Affairs )

Public Law 106-579, signed into law December 28, 2000, created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, and it designated 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day each year as the ‘‘National Moment of Remembrance." At this time all Americans are encouraged to pause wherever they are for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

On Memorial Day, Presidents continue to commemorate those who have died in service to the country by visiting Arlington National Cemetery and speaking to the nation. Search our site to read Memorial Day remarks from other Presidents at Arlington National Cemetery, in the Compilation of Presidential Documents collection.

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)


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