When is Memorial Day 2024?
Memorial Day 2024, which falls on May 27, evokes various images for many Americans, including hamburgers, hot dogs, swimming pools, and the arrival of summer. However, it holds a deeper significance as it stands as a day to pay homage to those who lost their lives while bravely fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces. This holiday carries a profound weight, rooted in somber American history and cherished tradition. Originally known as “Decoration Day,” it emerged after the Civil War when grieving individuals adorned the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers with flowers. While Memorial Day has become synonymous with the unofficial start of summer, it remains vital to remember and honor the heroes who made it all possible.
Curious about when Memorial Day will occur in 2024? The date to remember is May 27, when we gather to honor the courageous men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country in the U.S. Armed Forces.
To understand the origin of Memorial Day, we must look back to the conclusion of the Civil War in the spring of 1865. On April 9, Robert E. Lee surrendered the final major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House, marking the end of a four-year conflict that claimed the lives of over 620,000 soldiers. General John A. Logan, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization comprising Union veterans, later designated May 30, 1868, as a day to pay tribute to the fallen heroes. In his own words:
“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…”
Logan’s choice of May 30 was influenced by the nationwide blooming of flowers during that time. As the 19th century drew to a close, Memorial Day ceremonies took place across the nation on May 30. State proclamations were passed, and the Army and Navy implemented regulations to ensure proper observance at their facilities.
The inaugural Memorial Day ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery boasted a crowd of approximately 5,000 people, a size comparable to the attendance at today’s solemn observance. At that first ceremony, small American flags were placed on each grave—a tradition that persists in numerous national cemeteries to this day. In recent years, it has become customary for families to decorate the graves of all their departed loved ones.
By 1890, each Northern state had officially recognized Decoration Day as a holiday. However, the Southern states continued to honor their deceased on separate days until after the conclusion of the First World War.
The date of May 30 endured for several decades until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. This act established Memorial Day as the final Monday in May, creating a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971, and the same legislation declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Memorial Day FAQs
When is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is observed annually on the last Monday of May.