Do you know the story of Memorial Day? You might know that schools are closed and your parents have the day off, but do you know why?
In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day to help remember all the brave women and men who have defended our country by serving in the military. Some of them served in the Army, some in the Navy or Coast Guard, some in the Air Force, and some in the Marines.
Do you know anyone who serves in the Military? Maybe your parents do, or your cousins, or one of your neighbors. There are lots of ways to serve in the military, including as a reservist. That means you train as a soldier, but spend most of your time at home unless needed.
Memorial Day first began after the American Civil War. Have you learned about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln yet in school? It was one of the most important events in the history of the United States, and most people consider Abraham Lincoln to be one of the best Presidents we ever had. Ask your parents about all the great things that Abraham Lincoln did.
Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day, and it was started in 1868 by a soldier known as General John A. Logan.
Soon, people in the different states all across America began celebrating Decoration Day. Many states made it an official holiday, and some towns, like Ironton, Ohio, started throwing parades.
Ironton has been holding a Memorial Day parade since 1868. If you had been alive to see it, you would be over 150 years old by now!
As the years went on, Memorial Day events became more and more important to people. In 1913, people gathered together at a very special place called Gettysburg to remember one of the most important battles in the Civil War. In 1971, the Federal Government officially made Memorial Day a holiday.
Many places, like your school, will observe Memorial Day by lowering the American flag halfway down the pole for the first part of the day. This is called raising the flag to “half-staff.” We do this to honor the memories of all the brave soldiers who fought for our country.
Many towns and cities… maybe even the one that you live in… have parades and ceremonies on Memorial Day. In Washington, where the President lives, they have a concert. You can watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio.
Of course, the most important thing to do on Memorial Day is to remember… and honor… all of the incredible people who have served the United States over the years.