Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is dedicated to the memory of American military men who have lost their lives in the wars and armed conflicts. Memorial Day emerged after the civil war of 1861-1865 years and falls on the last Sunday of May. In 1868 veterans association of the Union led by General John Logan acted as an organizer of the holiday which was named Decoration Day. This very first holiday was celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington and brought out approximately five thousands of people. The holiday was given its current name when the Second World War ended.
There are many stories about the beginning of celebration, more than a dozen of cities claim to be a place of Memorial Day`s emergence. Evidence suggests that organized female groups decorated graves in the south of the country before the end of the Civil War to honour the memory of all those who perished. In 1867 a hymn «Bend our knees where our darlings are buried» composed by Nella L. Sweet was published. It was devoted to women from the country`s south who decorated graves of deceased confederates. In 1971 this day had been declared an official national holiday of the United States.
It is customary to visit war memorials and cemeteries on this day. Solemn ceremonies in memory of the fallen countrymen pass throughout the country. Special events are organized in schools and churches or commemorative service is held.
Memorial Day is celebrated not only in remembrance of servicemen but also all perished people. In a family environment Americans hold the memory of close family members who passed away. This day is celebrated decently and solemnly: by visiting religious services, laying flowers on graves and just paying tribute. On this day President or Vice-President of the USA deliver a speech and lays wreaths on soldiers` graves. Military men stand an honour guard, fire a salute from rifles and then a minute of silence is observed.
In many cities and inhabited localities veterans participate in special ceremonies on cemeteries and near the monuments to fallen soldiers. In 2000 a law introducing a minute of silence at three o`clock local time had been adopted in the USA. Apart from Memorial Day there are separate additional days for honouring perished during the Civil War.