Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Though its exact origins are clouded in history, Memorial Day was proclaimed as an official holiday on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873.
Some of the major traditions of Memorial Day evolved later. In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
cherish too, the Poppy red
She then conceived the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. This has become a tradition.
In light of the growing number of Americans who have sacrificed their lives in current and recent military conflicts, this is an important holiday to observe. The following websites and children’s literature selections have been reviewed to support teachers in teaching about Memorial Day in the classroom.
It is important to remember that family members of students in our classrooms may be serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Teachers need to emphasize that historically only a small percentage of those who serve are killed or wounded and that most soldiers return home at the end of their tour of duty. At the same time, as a nation we are grateful for the sacrifices of the soldiers who serve their duties far from home, and to their families who miss them and worry each day about their safety. We have two holidays (Memorial Day and Veterans Day) every year to recognize these sacrifices.
find other useful sites, please submit them to SCORE by emailing me at
To Observe Memorial Day
Department of Veterans Affairs
Domain Salute to Veterans
Meaning Behind Memorial Day
War II Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day
Day Shoebox Parade
Your State's Role in the Vietnam War
Wall Inspires Letters to Veterans
Day: Graphing Our History of Sacrifice
About Our Troops
a Memorial Day Poster Poem
Ansary, Mir Tamim. Memorial Day (Holiday Histories). Heinemann, 2006.
Bunting, Eve. The Wall (Reading Rainbow Book). Clarion Books (Reissue edition), 1992.
Cotton, Jacqueline S. Memorial Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays). Children's Press, 2002.
Dean, Sheri. Memorial Day/dia De Los Caidos (Our Country's Holidays/Las Fiestas De Nuestra Nacion). Weekly Reader Early Learning Library (Bilingual edition), 2005.
Ditchfield, Christin. Memorial Day (True Books). Children's Press, 2003.
Douglas, Lloyd. Let's Get Ready for Memorial Day. Tandem Library, 2003.
Golding, Theresa. Memorial Day Surprise. Boyds Mills Press, 2004.
Hamilton, Lynn. Memorial Day (American Holidays). Weigl Publishers, 2004.
Margaret, Amy. Memorial Day (The Library of Holidays). PowerKids Press, 2002.
Nelson, Robin. Memorial Day (First Step Nonfiction). Tandem Library, 2002.
Tyler. Memorial Day (Let's See Library). Compass Point