This Memorial Day, we hope you will take a moment with us to reflect on the reason the holiday was created: to honor those who gave their lives in service to our country and, ultimately, to all of us. There are many national parks where you can learn about military history and remember those who fought and died for our country.
Known or unknown, each soldier’s life or death was meaningful to someone. Many historians cite May 1, 1865, as the first Memorial Day, when 10,000 individuals, mostly freed men and women, held a ceremony to honor the dead Union soldiers in Charleston, South Carolina. More formal commemorations grew from these early gatherings in both the North and the South.
By the 1890s, Memorial Day was a noteworthy holiday across much of the country, and the tradition has continued through the passing decades. Commemorations today range from simple ceremonies to elaborate displays, like the annual Fredericksburg National Cemetery Illumination, where 15,000 candles are lighted — one candle in honor of every soldier buried within its walls.
We hope you are able to visit a national park and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country!
Vice President, Programs and Partnerships