Memorial Day is a National holiday observed annually on the last Monday in May. The holiday honors men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. To observe Memorial Day, many military cemeteries and war memorials hold commemorative events to honor and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There are a variety of other meaningful events, such as military parades, concerts, and flags placed on military gravesites.
Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial beginning of summer. As with most holiday weekends, it is a time for sales and shopping, and fun with friends and family. Retailers and restaurants offer many discounts and freebies over the weekend. Some of the discounts and deals are especially for military personnel or veterans, but many others are available to anyone.
Find these Memorial Day holiday discounts and deals, along with Seattle-Tacoma metro area parades, ceremonies, and events in our calendar below.
About Memorial Day
The roots of the Memorial Day holiday go back to the Civil War. People began the practice of placing flags or flowers on the graves at newly formed military cemeteries. In 1868, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11 proclaimed the date of “Decoration Day”.
“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” — General John Logan.
In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act, establishing the last Monday in May as the federal holiday Memorial Day.
To date, the Civil War has claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history (Civil War deaths ~625,000; World War I 116,516; World War II 405,399; plus numerous other wars that have claimed ahother 1.8 million American lives). The YouTube video below is a sobering visit to American Military cemeteries around the world.
Watch the YouTube video below Here’s to The Heroes Who Never Came Home – YouTube as a reminder of what this holiday weekend is really about.
Seattle’s First Memorial Day Service 1927
Arlington Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. is our nation’s most renowned veterans’ cemetery. For Seattle-area veterans and their spouses, being interred in Virginia would greatly hinder loved ones from being able to visit their graves as often as they would prefer. As early as 1904, local veterans of the Spanish American War began to search for ways to honor fallen comrades in a local cemetery. However, the start of the First World War delayed their efforts.
In 1927, Clinton S. Harley, then General Manager of Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in north Seattle and himself a veteran of the Spanish American War, offered a large section of the cemetery for the burial of local veterans and their spouses. The first Memorial Day Service at the new Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery was held May 30, 1927.
Seattle’s mayor, Bertha K. Landes (the first woman to head the government of a major American city), called attention to the 1927 Memorial Day services in Seattle and issued a proclamation.
National Moment of Remembrance
The National Moment of Remembrance is an annual event that asks Americans, wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause for a duration of one minute to remember those who have died in military service to the United States. The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying time off from work for the national holiday. The Moment was first proclaimed in May 2000 for Memorial Day that year and was put in law by the United States Congress in December 2000.
Taps Across America
The TAPS ACROSS AMERICA tribute debuted on national television in 2020 when CBS news “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman teamed up with retired Air Force bugler Jari Villanueva, founder of TAPS FOR VETERANS and TAPS ACROSS AMERICA. The two men invited buglers and musicians to sound Taps from their front porches all at the same time as a part of the TAPS ACROSS AMERICA tribute. The massive, simultaneous event replaced picnics, parades, and other celebrations cancelled due to the pandemic.
The response was overwhelming: More than 10,000 musicians joined in a nationwide salute to remember fallen service members. TAPS ACROSS AMERICA brings the country together, offering everyone an opportunity to Honor, Remember and Reflect in the true spirit of Memorial Day.
TAPS ACROSS AMERICA continues every Memorial Day, once again bringing together thousands of musicians to sound Taps at 3 pm (local). More info: Taps Across America
Calendar of Memorial Day events
Listed below are Memorial Day events of all kinds, including remembrances as well as other conventional holiday weekend traditions such as retail sales. We usually begin to update Memorial Day events sometime in late April or early May for the coming year. We continue to add events as they are announced by organizers.