Dear Amy: Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? — Gwen T., Auburn, Alabama
Dear Gwen: While Memorial Day is often celebrated with barbecues and outdoor family gatherings in the U.S., it actually marks a day of remembrance of the men and women who have died serving this country. The tradition began after the Civil War. More than 600,000 men died during the four years (1861-1865) of this war, more than in World War I and World War II combined.
The holiday was originally called Decoration Day, and people visited local cemeteries to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers or flags every year. Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, and is observed each year on the last Monday in May. You can learn more about its history at usmemorialday.org.
Once you learn more about the history of the holiday, you may want to help create your own family traditions. Many families commemorate this day by visiting a war memorial, writing a letter to a soldier or visiting a veterans hospital. Read about these and other ideas at Memorial Day Traditions and Activities, pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/memorial-day/traditions-activities.
Ask Amy a Question