Memorial Day In Brief


Annual Date:
Last Monday of May

The more than one million men and women of the United States military–including nearly 6,000 Oregonianswho gave their lives in service of their country from the Civil War to the present.

Former Name & Annual Date:
Decoration Day, May 30th

First Celebrated Nationally and Annually:
May 30, 1868 (Arlington National Cemetery, VA)

Codified into State Law:
1871 (Michigan); 1873 (New York); by 1890 (all 25 Union states)

Codified into Federal Law:
1889 (designation of May 30 as federal holiday of Decoration Day, memorializing all Civil War soldiers who died); 1938 (designation of Decoration Day as federal holiday memorializing all U.S. military fatalities in war); 1950 (requirement of annual Presidential Proclamation); 1967 (name change to “Memorial Day”); 1968 (change from May 30 to last Monday in May, effective 1971); 2000 (National Moment of Silence)

Key Civic Events Marking Today’s Observance:

  • Volunteers, relatives and friends place U.S. flags and flowers on graves of American military veterans.
  • U.S. flags fly at half staff from dawn until noon per Presidential proclamation as required by federal law (36 U.S. Code 116).
  • Citizens attend parades and/or gather for short programs held at local cemeteries or memorials.
  • Per presidential proclamation people and media outlets of the United States “observe Memorial Day” as day of “prayer for a permanent peace.” During a “period of time” during the day required by federal law (usually the hour of 11:00am per Presidential proclamation) people of the United States “may unite in prayer” and reflection.
  • Moment of silence occurs at 3:00pm per federal law (36 U.S. Code 116).

Flag at half staff in North Plains Oregon on Memorial Day

Attend a Memorial Day ceremony.
Take a friend or family member.
You’ll be glad you did.

2 thoughts on “Memorial Day In Brief”

    1. Hi Kathleen. Thanks to your post, we are in the process of adding a page on Milwaukie/Oak Grove. The ceremony for that area is organized by American Legion Post 180 and is traditionally held at the historic Milwaukie Pioneer Cemetery at 9515 SE 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97222. The best current information is that the ceremony event details for this year have not yet been finalized (no ceremony was held last year due to COVID). This is the same fluid situation many places around the state are in: they are working with state and county officials to make sure that they comply with all COVID-related protocols. *Look for an update on this site before the 31st regarding the ceremony. *I can confirm that American Legion Post 180 will have their traditional Appreciation Day event for veterans and community members on May 31st from 12:00-4:00pm at 2146 SE Monroe St, Milwaukie, OR 97222. It includes a bar-b-que. Hope this helps. Take care! – Marc

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