Memorial Day

Barbara J. Feldman

Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) was first observed in 1868 to honor the soldiers of the Civil War. Its origins can be traced back to General John A. Logan who proclaimed: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Has the original meaning of the day been lost?

  • Department of Veteran Affairs: Memorial Day5 stars

    It is believed that the end of May was chosen for the first Memorial Day because "because flowers would be in bloom all over the country." Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs Memorial Day site for a comprehensive history of the holiday, the story of taps, and to learn how the poppy became the Flower of Remembrance. There are also links to national observances, veteran statistics, and flag protocol.

  • The History Channel: Memorial Day4 stars

    Explore the history of Memorial Day with a one-page feature article and a gallery of History Channel videos and photos. "The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country's first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers."

  • Library of Congress: Patriotic Melodies5 stars

    Now for something a little different. From "America the Beautiful" to "You're a Grand Old Flag," this Library of Congress site "tells the stories behind many of the songs that have now become part of the American national heritage. A combination of hymns, national songs, music of the theater, radio and television, military themes, and poetry, all of this music demonstrates that while over history many things have changed, this expression of pride and hope remain a constant part of the American experience."

  • Library of Congress: Veterans History Project5 stars

    "Every veteran has his or her own war, and each is custodian of a unique story and memories. At the Veterans History Project, we treasure the personal narratives sent to us by veterans from all wars. Vivid as if they happened yesterday, these heartfelt accounts make us laugh, cry and remember." The stories are amazing (making this Library of Congress site my pick of the day) but better yet you can interview a family member, and add their story to the collection. The participation page is chock full of interviewing tips and sample questions. Stories can be submitted online or via a printed form.

  • PBS: National Memorial Day Concert5 stars

    The Memorial Day Concert from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol is broadcast live on PBS. This companion website, while it doesn't host the concert, (via streaming) has lots of interesting Memorial Day content. Visit for video highlights of previous concerts, and the thoughtful essays in the Meaning & History section, including a list of ways that Americans observe Memorial Day. "Memorial Day is a favorite time for Americans to read their family history, look at old photographs and learn about their ancestors; especially those who died in the line of battle."

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Memorial Day." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 13 May. 2014. Web. 24 Jul. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/memorial-day/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published May 13, 2014. Last modified May 13, 2014.

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