The last weekend in May marks a number of celebrations in the United States. Of the over 13,000 public schools in the U.S., many schools will hold their graduation ceremonies that weekend. While thousands of people will attend graduation parties, thousands of other people will observe the unofficial first weekend of summer with outdoor parties, picnics, and barbecues. However, a countless number of other Americans will fly flags and attend parades during Memorial Day events to honor veterans who died while serving in one of the U. S. branches of the military.

Historians Discover Hazy Past Surrounding Memorial Day’s Starting Point

The origins of Memorial Day are unclear, and many different parts of the country assert to have started the practice of remembering fallen soldiers. More than 25 places have claimed to be the origin of Memorial Day, and the confusion stems from many reasons. First, it is an ancient and worldwide custom to place flowers on graves to honor the dead, so when immigrants came to America, they brought this custom to numerous parts of this country. Second, this custom, sometimes known as Decoration Day, was observed on a variety of dates depending on the community, but most were held in early summer.


Civil War Spurs Country To Observe Decoration Day
Soldiers from the Civil War wearing hats and holding their musket rifles.

A photo of civil war soldiers.

It wasn’t until the Civil War that a national movement began to honor those who had died in military service. With the death of over 600,000 soldiers during the Civil War, the burial and reverence of those dead became important across the reunified, grieving nation. So, in 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic designated May 30 as Decoration Day. He declared the day’s purpose was to decorate the graves of service members who died fighting in the Civil War. Following World War I, a second surge of patriotism swept across the country, and the idea to have a single day of remembrance for fallen soldiers of all wars took root. The idea continued to grow until President Lyndon Johnson urged Congress to create a Memorial Day holiday, and in 1967, Congress made the official name of the holiday “Memorial Day” to be celebrated on May 30. However, a year later, in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, the Congress moved the date of the holiday to the last Monday of the month of May, thereby creating a three-day weekend holiday for all federal employees. The new date began in 1971.

Memorial Day Customs Have Changed From The Past Rituals

Over the years, traditions associated with the holiday have grown. People still mark the graves of fallen service members, but in the past 100 years, many additional activities have been added.For example, motorcade parades have been added which often feature police cars and fire trucks of the local communities. The playing of “Taps” at local cemeteries is now often part of a traditional Memorial Day observance as well as speeches by local veterans. Many people wear poppies, and display the flag at their homes.The U.S. President (or his designee) places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The latest tradition, the National Moment of Remembrance Act, was added by Congress in 2000. Congress urges people to stop and remember fallen service members at 3:00 PM on the holiday.

Hit Trophy Hopes To Add To Memorial Day Traditions
A solid walnut plaque with the marine corps seal at the top and a black & gold engraving plate at the bottom. The engraving talks recognizes a Marine for giving 20 years to the service.

Walnut Marine Seal Plaque

Hit Trophy salutes all of the traditions of the Memorial Day weekend, and we suggest starting your own traditions in your local city or town. We can help. For example, has a local family lost a family member while serving as a Marine? Present the family members with our Walnut Marine Seal Plaque. This ½” plank of American walnut measures 9” x 12” and weighs over two pounds. The plaque presents the seal of the U.S. Marines, and below it we have included a black and gold engraving plate. The plate measures 8” x 3” and will hold up to six lines of text. Our engraving specialists will gladly create the design of the engraving plate. They use laser technology to precisely engrave the text on the plate. Engraving is included in the price of the plaque. Honor the sacrifice of that service member by giving one of our Walnut Marine Seal Plaques on Memorial Day.

A contemporary stainless steel, chrome plated plaque. The top features a full color US Army Seal, while the bottom has a silver engraving plate. The engraving recognizes a Private First Class Army Infantryman

Army Seal Plaque

We can also help your Memorial Day observation if you have an active duty army member (or army veteran) as your Memorial Day speaker. Thank that service member for assisting in the Memorial Day event by giving that person our stainless steel Army Seal Plaque! This sleek plaque measures over a foot tall (10.5″ x 13″) and weighs nearly two pounds. Besides prominently displaying the seal of the U.S. Army, this plaque includes a chrome engraving plate. The plate measures 6” x 3” and will hold up to five lines of text expressing your gratitude. Our graphic artists will use our laser technology to engrave your text on the plate. Engraving is free. A similar plaque is available with a luxurious walnut board.

Hit Trophy Has Hundreds Of Service Awards And Gifts
A solid walnut plaque with rounded corners. The middle top features a full color Air Force Seal, while the bottom features a black & gold engraving plate with words of recognition for dedicated service.

Air Force Seal Plaque

Is the Grand Marshall of your Memorial Day parade a veteran of the Navy or Air Force? Show your appreciation to that service member for helping with the parade by giving that individual one of our many service related plaques. No matter how you are participating in observing Memorial Day weekend, we can help. We offer over a dozen military plaques, over a dozen military statues, as well as memorial flag display cases and many other military and patriotic awards and gifts. Our family owned business is honored to serve those who serve this country. Browse our entire catalog of hundreds of service awards and gifts. Call us at (419) 445-5356 or order online. Your satisfaction is our number one concern, so we always provide fast and friendly service with each order placed at Hit Trophy. Let us help you make your Memorial Day observation a memorable one.




Tim Friend has written news and entertainment articles for AXS.com, Examiner.com, and many regional publications. He also writes advertising copy for companies including Hit Trophy. In addition to his writing credits, he has three decades of experience teaching journalism and communication.