Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.
Originally known as Decoration Day, the current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week on which it fell, until 1968 when the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends.
It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, though Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance and more a holiday on which to hold picnics and family gatherings.
All of us should take a moment to mentally, if not actually, thank those in the nation’s armed forces for their service. We take our freedom and way of life for granted, but without those who put their lives on the line to protect those freedoms for us, we would not be the country we are. (from Wikipedia and me)