Take a moment to learn the true meaning of Memorial Day. It’s important to recognize the difference between this federal holiday and Veterans Day (especially for vets). Also, learn why it was originally called Decoration Day, why the red poppy is a symbol, and when to fly the flag.

When Is Memorial Day 2024?

This U.S. federal holiday is observed on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. It was formerly known as Decoration Day.

In 2024, Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 27. 

Memorial Day Dates
Year Memorial Day
2024 Monday, May 27
2025 Monday, May 26
2026 Monday, May 25
2027 Monday, May 31

What’s the Difference Between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?

On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a distinction between the two holidays:

  • Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    You’ll find that some veterans find it dismaying when they are thanked on this day. It’s a time remembering those who lost their lives and could not come home. We might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind, as well as reflecting on why we—the living—have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today.

  • Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served in the United States Armed Forces—in wartime or peacetime—regardless of whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Read more about Veterans Day.

Flying Old Glory

Flag etiquette on Memorial Day is unique. At sunrise, flags are to be raised to full staff briskly, then lowered to a half-staff position, where they will remain until noon. See the guidelines for flying the American Flag.

Traditionally, on Memorial Day (U.S.), volunteers often place small American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. Consider visiting a local cemetery to place flags; many organizations would be grateful for volunteers. Contact your local American Legion post, Daughters of the American Revolution, or Boy or Girl Scouts troops.

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