Memorial Day
May 30
Observed Last Monday of May

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:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

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.

If you find other useful sites, please submit them to SCORE by emailing me at
Margaret Hill, Director
SCORE History-Social Science


Memorial Day
This History Channel site has a timeline of America’s wars, a history of Memorial Day, maps, and a Veteran’s Forum.

How To Observe Memorial Day
This Memorial Day Foundation site has suggestions for observances. It also links to other Memorial Day related sites and information.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
This VA site has statistical information about war casualties, rules about handling the flag, the history of Memorial Day, and much more.

Kids Domain Salute to Veterans
Here is a set of reviewed links designed for young students to learn about Memorial Day and other Veteran related issues.

The Meaning Behind Memorial Day,6260,109795,00.html
This TIME for Kids site has information on the history of Memorial Day and how people may observe it.

War Memorials

National World War II Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall


Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day
This Education World site has five lessons for teaching about Memorial Day:

Memorial Day Shoebox Parade
Create a timeline of U.S. conflict and a Memorial Day Shoebox Parade to commemorate soldiers who fought for freedom. (Grades 3-12)

Mapping Your State's Role in the Vietnam War
Teach the significance of Memorial Day by creating a map showing the hometowns of your state's Vietnam War dead. A stunning visual reminder! (Grades 2-12)

The Wall Inspires Letters to Veterans
Eve Bunting's moving book, The Wall, inspires students to write letters to veterans at local veterans' hospitals. (Grades K-12)

Memorial Day: Graphing Our History of Sacrifice
Students learn about the significance of Memorial Day by using an online graphing tool to graph America's war history. (Grades 3-12)

Thinking About Our Troops
Here are several ways for kids to connect with America's soldiers serving around the globe. (Grade K-12)

Creating a Memorial Day Poster Poem
Children create a Memorial Day word web and use it to create a poem about Memorial Day.


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.

Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Memorial Day (Let's See Library). Compass Point Books, 2004.