Memorial Day is an annual observance to honor the men and women who have died during service to the United States Military. It is observed every year on the last Monday in May. It is most often celebrated by placing flags on the graves of fallen Military members.
A National Moment Of Remembrance is observed on Memorial Day at 3:00PM local time.
Because it is a national federal holiday, many people have the day off from work and school, and it is often a big day for barbecues and other gatherings to welcome the summer season.
Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 29, 2023
How To Observe Memorial Day
Traditional ways to observe Memorial Day include:
- Attend a Memorial Day Ceremony
- Visiting military cemeteries and memorials; place flags or flowers on graves
- Wearing a red poppy in remembrance of the fallen
- Hang American flags at half-staff until noon, then raise to the top
Other Ways To Celebrate Memorial Day:
- Attend a church service
- Watch the annual National Memorial Day Concert
- Volunteer with a local military/veterans organization
- Visit a National Park or historic site with military relevance
- Visit a local Field Of Honor Event on Memorial Day weekend
- Get togethers and barbecues with family and friends
The Largest Memorial Day Parades take place in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C.
- National Memorial Day Parade – Washington D.C.
- Little Neck-Douglaston Parade – New York City
- Chicago Memorial Day Parade – Chicago, Illinois
- Kings County Memorial Day Parade – Brooklyn, New York
Orange County Memorial Day Events
- Anaheim – Ceremony at Anaheim Cemetery, 1400 E. Sycamore St
- Brea – Avenue of the Flags at Memory Garden Memorial Park & Mortuary
- Buena Park – Service beginning at 10 a.m. at the Elhers Event Center, 8150 Knott Ave and American Legion Post 354 will host a pancake breakfast starting at 8 a.m.
- Corona Del Mar – Remembrance service beginning at 11 a.m. at the Pacific View Memorial Park & Mortuary, 3500 Pacific View Drive.
- Costa Mesa – Ceremony at Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive Memorial Park & Mortuary
- Cypress – Remembrance at Forest Lawn-Cypress.
- Dana Point – Ceremony at Pines Park, 34941 Camino Capistrano.
- Fountain Valley – Commemoration at 10 a.m. at Veterans Park, 17635 Los Alamos St.
- Fullerton – A Memorial Day observance starts at 10 a.m. at Loma Vista Memorial Park, 701 E. Bastanchury Road.
- Huntington Beach – 11 a.m. ceremony feature a rifle salute, a wreath presentation, speakers and musical performances at Pier Plaza.
- Irvine – Ceremony at 10 am at Col. Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park.
- Laguna Beach – ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. in Heisler Park, 375 Cliff Drive followed by a free concert.
- Laguna Hills – Memorial Day Half Marathon, 5K run/walk, a 10K run and a kids run.
- Lake Forest – El Toro Memorial Park tribute at 11 am.
- Laguna Niguel – 12 pm ceremony at Sea Country Senior and Community Center.
- La Palma – 9 a.m. ceremony at the Eternal Flame in front of the Civic Center, 7822 Walker St.
- Mission Viejo – 8:30 a.m. ceremony at the Kershaw Garden at Mission Viejo Civic Center, 200 Civic Center.
- Newport Beach – Field of Honor is on display at Castaways Park, 700 Dover Drive.
- San Clemente – 11 a.m. observance will be held outside the Community Center at Avenida Del Mar and Calle Seville.
- San Juan Capistrano – Field of Honor at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
- Santa Ana – Service at Fairhaven Memorial Park will begin at 10:30 a.m. plus a 10 am observance at the Santa Ana Cemetery, 1919 E. Santa Clara Ave.
- Seal Beach – The Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach will host a ceremony at 11 a.m. at its United States National Submarine Memorial West.
- Tustin – 9 a.m. remembrance event at the Veterans Monument at Veterans Sports Park, 1645 Valencia Ave.
- Yorba Linda – Huntington Beach Concert Band will perform at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum
Orange County Military Memorials & Monuments
- Vietnam War Monument – 14199 All American Way, Westminster, CA 92683
- Korean War Memorial – 1321 N Brea Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92835
- Brea War Memorial – 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea, CA 92821
- Marine War Memorial – 700 Dover Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660
- Yorba Linda Veterans Memorial – 4766 Valley View Ave, Yorba Linda, CA 92886
- Veterans Memorial Park – Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point Harbor, CA 92629
- World War II Submarine Memorial – 842-1010 Seal Beach Blvd, Seal Beach, CA 90740
- Northwood Gratitude & Honor memorial – 4531 Bryan Ave, Irvine, CA 92620
- Veterans Memorial at Depot Park – 100 N Atchison St, Orange, CA 92866
- Patriot Point – Bluff Top Park, 2201 CA-1 (Pacific Coast Hwy), Huntington Beach, CA 92648
- Heroes Hall Museum – OC Fair & Event Center: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Memorial Day Facts
- Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
- It was observed on May 30 from the years 1868 to 1970.
- May 30th was selected because no major battles occurred on that day during the Civil War.
- 620,000 soldiers were killed in the Civil War – that is equal to the combined total fatalities of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
- Over 20 cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.
- Wearing a red poppy is inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields” but John McCrae.
- What’s the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Memorial Day honors military members who died in service; Veterans Day honors all men and women who have served in the military.
History Of Memorial Day
Memorial Day began after the Civil War. At the end of this American conflict in 1865, more lives had been claimed than in any other event in US History (more than 600,000 killed), and the first national cemeteries were created to give a final resting place to the fallen. To remember and honor those who were lost, communities began holding ceremonies and decorating and praying at grave sites.
According to the Federal Government, the first Memorial Day was observed in Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866. According to records though, the first Memorial Day observance was organized in 1865, less than a month after the surrender of the Confederacy, in Charleston, South Carolina by a group of formerly enslaved people.
Before it was known as Memorial Day, General John A. Logan of the Northern Civil War veterans organization called for a nationwide day of remembrance to be observed on May 30th of 1868 by putting flowers and other decorations on the graves of the fallen, which he called Decoration Day. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day, where 20,000 Civil War soldiers were buried. By 1890, many states had adopted the observance of Decoration Day.
Over time, and as war progressed, Decoration Day came to be known as Memorial Day and honored fallen American military members of all wars and major conflicts. May 30th continued to be the official date of observance for many years. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, officially designating the Last Monday in May as Memorial Day, creating a three day weekend for all federal employees and making Memorial Day an official Federal Holiday. The act went into effect in 1971.
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.