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Memorial Day Ceremonies at National Cemeteries and War Memorials

Civil War casualties numbered more than any other conflict in American history. By late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities started commemorating fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and flags in honor of Memorial Day in April.

Wreath-laying events typically feature speeches, music, a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. Furthermore, many national cemeteries partner with volunteer groups to place flags on veterans’ graves leading up to Memorial Day.

National Moment

Since 2000, Memorial Day’s National Moment — when Americans are encouraged to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time Memorial Day to remember its war dead — has become part of this day-long commemorative holiday. The initiative came about following a survey that revealed too many Americans didn’t understand its meaning and work of the Commission on Remembrance had begun in earnest that year – with The National Moment becoming its core element.

After the American Civil War ended in 1865, memorial Day commemorations quickly started being observed through community gatherings and individual graveyard visits where flowers and American flags were laid upon soldiers’ tombs as memorial tribute. An organization called Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), comprised of Union veterans veterans, instituted Decoration Day on May 30, which became the inaugural large scale commemoration.

By the end of World War I, however, Memorial Day had come to honor all American military service members who died while serving their nation and thus gave rise to its modern form. Memorial Day became celebrated annually on the last Monday in May and now takes place across America on this date.

On Memorial Day, thousands of cities and towns hold ceremonies commemorating Memorial Day with speakers, flag presentations, musical performances including “Taps”, and parades featuring military personnel or veterans’ organizations.

New York City observes Memorial Day by placing wreaths at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Riverside Park as well as other memorial sites across Manhattan, such as Gettysburg and Antietam battlefield sites. A large parade features Camp Chase Fifes and Drums from Washington D.C. who offer one of the nation’s premier Civil War-era fife and drum corps, Camp Chase Fifes and Drums; numerous neighborhoods hold smaller community-based parades, the American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon; furthermore it would be worthwhile flying the POW/MIA flag which honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action; these flags can be purchased from most major home improvement stores as well as veteran service centers.

Wreath Laying

As part of Memorial Day ceremonies at national cemeteries, flags are usually placed at each gravesite; this year however, the Department of Veterans Affairs is encouraging each cemetery to host a wreath-laying ceremony instead. These events will be brief and closed to the public, though they will still be streamed live via VA social media channels.

As part of a national effort, SUNY New Paltz students joined in commemorating 82,422 American soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their nation. To pay our respects and remember those lost while serving, the Office of Veteran and Military Services collaborated with Student Senate to sponsor an event honoring those who made this ultimate sacrifice by placing a wreath outside Haggerty Administration Building in memory of those lost serving our country.

Wreath-laying ceremonies take place throughout the year, but are particularly prominent on Memorial Day and other holidays. Anyone wishing to lay a wreath at any monument or memorial in America should first check with National Mall and Memorial Parks as to whether a permit is needed; then submit their application no later than 10 days prior to their ceremony date.

Attendees looking to participate in wreath-laying ceremonies should arrive early at their chosen site to ensure there is sufficient time for setting up equipment and completing their task. Carriers of wreaths should enlist two helpers to avoid accidentally dropping it while transporting and placing. Once at their chosen stone or monument site, carefully place the wreath near or on it before standing back up to salute it if any parts fall. Any wreath that does land flat can simply lie there until after the ceremony has taken place before being collected up again after its conclusion.

If you would like to honor a fallen servicemember this Memorial Day, consider leaving them a tribute on Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM). VLM offers memorial pages for each of the nearly 4.5 million Americans interred at VA national cemeteries or grant-funded state, territorial and tribal veterans’ cemeteries; additionally you can visit national cemeteries’ websites to learn about Memorial Day services they are holding locally.

National Anthem

Each Memorial Day ceremony includes the traditional performance of the National Anthem as part of its tradition and to remember those who have made such a monumental effort for our nation, both those who have sacrificed and those still serving our great country. Standing for this anthem honors those who have served and continue to serve it.

The National Anthem is an emotionally engaging piece of music, stirring patriotic sentiment in all Americans and playing an essential role at Memorial Day services at national cemeteries and war memorials. Listening to it causes many listeners to reflect upon both their own lives as well as those of loved ones they know.

This year, Mauldin and Buncombe County are joining together to host an Memorial Day Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial on East Butler Road in Mauldin starting at 11 a.m. This event will include a salute by Mauldin High School Navy Junior ROTC as they present colors. Following this presentation is Charlie Hall from Upstate Warrior Solution giving his keynote speech as well as a moment of silence before playing Taps as an encore performance – free admission!

Memorial Day was initially known as Decoration Day until 1971 when it was declared a federal holiday. To mark this occasion, graves in national cemeteries across America are decorated with small American flags on Thursday preceding Memorial Day; this tradition started after Mrs. Laura D. Richardson of Knoxville Tennessee saw them displayed in a store window while shopping for flowers to decorate her deceased family members’ graves.

Every Memorial Day, either the president or vice president presides over a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington and places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Additionally, these officials attend ceremonies at Civil War battle sites such as Gettysburg and Sharpsburg (Antietam). Furthermore, Congress holds its annual Memorial Day event with solemn observance at Capitol rotunda where an additional wreath is laid by members representing them on behalf of Congress.


Memorial Day, traditionally observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates those who have given their lives while serving their nation in any capacity in the Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day due to ceremonies hosted on that date chosen by General Logan – May 30 – initially it became Memorial Day. After World War I, Memorial Day became an opportunity to remember all Americans who had made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their nation in military. Today, the National Cemetery Administration under the Department of Veteran Affairs hosts Memorial Day events across its 136 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites across the US. Each headstone will be decorated with small American and host nation flags; while speakers and honor guards pay their respects to thousands of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice far away from family, friends, or home.

Many cities and towns host parades on Memorial Day to commemorate this national holiday, often featuring members of the armed forces and veterans’ organizations as well as marching bands, color guards, and other patriotic displays before concluding at local cemeteries or war memorials.

Wreath laying and moments of silence are typical elements at these ceremonies, while Taps (a bugle call that commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedoms) often plays. This tradition began at Decoration Day ceremonies held for the first time in 1874 due to an act inspired by Mrs. Laura D. Richardson of Knoxville Tennessee visiting Civil War battlefields – who saw an opportunity to honor fallen heroes with flowers and flags decorating graves of soldiers killed on both sides.

At Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, every gravestone and niche receives an American flag as part of a ceremony celebrating Memorial Day – where President of the United States places a wreath at its tomb.

At 3 pm on Memorial Day, Americans are invited to observe the National Moment of Remembrance by pausing for one minute of silence in memory of those we have lost from our usual work, even if we are busy in leisure work like playing slots thro’ yoakimbridge.com. There are various ways people can observe this event – formal services at veterans cemeteries or public parks may offer formal services; informal ones in their backyards might ring a bell to signal its start/end time, while local radio stations might play the bugle call of Taps as part of this moment of remembrance.