Memorial Day is a national holiday in the United States.  The holiday honors troops who have died in past wars like World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and all those who have died in the Middle East.

The national holiday got started on May 30, 1868. Union general John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. He called it Decoration Day. After World War I, the holiday was more commonly called Memorial Day.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman issued a proclamation that broadened the purpose of Memorial Day. He called on Americans to also observe the holiday as a day of prayer for peace. President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971.

Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday of May. It honors the men and women of the U.S. military who died in American wars. One of the biggest Memorial Day traditions is for the president or vice president to give a speech. Another is for the president or vice president to lay a wreath on soldiers’ graves in the largest U.S. military burial ground, Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia.

Most towns have local Memorial Day celebrations. Here are some ways you can honor the men and women who have served our country.

– Put flags or flowers on the graves of men and women who served in wars.

– Fly the U.S. flag at half-mast until noon.

– Visit monuments dedicated to soldiers, sailors, and marines.

– Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.

– March in a parade.

Memorial Day is thought of by many Americans as being the start of summer.

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