(last Monday in May) Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.) Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (For more information, see http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history.)
As the ancient always honored the men who gave their lives in defense of their cities, so we modern Hellenes do, too. Take part in memorial services held in your local area and add prayers of thanksgiving for the heroic efforts provided by veterans of your country and for the protection of present day armed forces.