Memorial Day Is More Than The Unofficial Start Of Summer


Word Count

473 words

Reading Level

Listen to Article

Americans will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, May 27, 2019 (Credit: Aliexas Fotos/ Pixabay/CC By-SA- 2.0)

Memorial Day, which will be celebrated on Monday, May 27, 2019, is considered by many Americans as the unofficial start of summer. For some, that means kick-starting the warm season with a three-day getaway; for others, it is a day to host barbecues or lounge by the pool with family and friends. Though these are great ways to celebrate the holiday, what often gets forgotten is its real purpose — to honor and remember the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives to defend America's freedom.

Though they both pay tribute to American soldiers, Memorial Day is distinct from Veterans Day, which is celebrated annually on November 11. The former honors those who died in the line of duty, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all US military personnel, living or dead.

Many Americans use Memorial Day weekend to kick-start their summer travel (Credit:

Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 by General John Logan, the National Commander of the Grand Army — a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Logan, who called it “Decoration Day,” believed setting aside a special day to commemorate the nation's fallen heroes would help heal the rift between citizens of the Northern and Southern States who were still recovering from the American Civil War (1861-1865). Logan and 5,000 other participants marked the day by placing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Though all Northern States had adopted the holiday by 1890, officials of the Southern States continued to honor their Civil War heroes on different days. It was only after the purpose of Decoration Day was extended to include the American lives lost in World War I (Jul 28, 1914 – Nov 11, 1918) that the holiday became recognized across the US. Many Southern States, however, continue to celebrate Confederate Heroes Day as well, in honor of their American Civil War soldiers.

Memorial Day honors American soldiers who have lost their lives in combat (Credit:

In 1968, the US Congress declared Memorial Day, as it was now called, a federal holiday and moved the date to the last Monday of May. While this allows Americans to enjoy a three-day weekend, the holiday’s true significance has been somewhat diminished in the minds of the American public. To remind residents of the holiday’s solemn purpose, former US president Bill Clinton passed The National Moment of Remembrance Act in December 2000. The law urges Americans to observe a minute of silence at 3:00 pm (local time) to honor the nation's fallen heroes. So this Memorial Day, take a break from whatever fun activities you are engaged in and pay your respects to the brave American men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the safety and freedom of our country.

Happy Memorial Day!


Get the Workbook for this article!

Workbook contains: Article, Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking Questions, Vocabulary in Context (+ answers), Multiple Choice Quiz (+ answers), Parts of Speech Quiz (+ answers), Vocabulary Game (+ answers)
Cite Article
Learn Keywords in this Article
  • deafgirlhistory
    I salute all soldiers who died for our freedom, I want to become soldier, thank you for your sevices soldiers!
    • gold3nglare
      gold3nglarealmost 2 years
      I didn't even know that memorial day marked the start of summer. I always thought that it was a day to remember veterans. (It is) I never knew that people only thought of this day as a summer signal. I salute all fallen and surviving veterans. My grandfather served in the Vietnam war.
      • acillies
        acilliesalmost 3 years
        On say can you see, by the dawns early light. What so proudly we hailed, by the twilights last gleaming, o'er the ramparts we watched, through the perilous fight, by the black white smoke, though the flag was still there.
        • winterlynx
          winterlynxalmost 3 years
          Some of my family are veterans.
          • lovepup1
            lovepup1over 3 years
            my great g pa was in it too he died tho. his bday was on vetrains day. he was fling the plain and the plain got hit and he was the pilot. he was the only one who died. my g pa and others were bady injured. RIP great g pa Iove you. thank you.
          • LDshadowladyover 3 years
            that so sad there fight just for that i really hope they live i will pray for them
            • keishawnover 3 years
              that is so sad
              • emilyover 3 years
                I cried );
                • Jacobover 3 years
                  its so sad that they sacrificed their lives for us
                  • birdsong
                    birdsongover 3 years
                    I like this.