Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a legal holiday in most states but, until recently, it was not observed on the same date in all states. The northern states used to observe Memorial Day on May 30th; the southern states observed the holiday on either April 26th, May 10th, or June 3rd. By federal law, Memorial Day is now observed on May 30th in all states. Memorial Day is not a festive holiday. On Memorial Day we honor all the men and women who died while serving their country in the armed forces.
To observe Memorial Day, people place artificial poppies and flags on the graves of servicemen and servicewomen. There are also national ceremonies held at Gettysburg National Military Park and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Every year, the President of the United States places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a sign of honor and respect to all the unknown soldiers who have died in battle. Many organizations, including the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and many veteran and fraternal groups, take part in these ceremonies.
Memorial Day began sometime during the American Civil War. According to some sources, Memorial Day has its roots in France. Cassandra Oliver Moncure, who was of French decent, chose May 30th as the day to honor the fallen soldiers because it is the Day of Ashes in France. There is also evidence that in 1868, General John A. Logan designated this day to honor the soldiers who died in the war by decorating their graves.