Last Monday of May
The more than one million men and women of the United States military–including nearly 6,000 Oregonians—who 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).