Traditional Memorial Day is May 30, but the Congressional designation is the last Monday in May each year. Few realize that Memorial Day is actually a day of National Mourning and flags should be displayed at half-staff until noon, when they should be raised to their full height. It is a day designated to commemorate soldiers killed in U.S. wars.
The tradition of decoration the graves of those who died in wars was started by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Union veterans organization that made honoring Civil War dead a civic duty for all citizens. New York was the first state to actually legalize the day, in 1873. The rest of the northern states followed, and by 1890 the day had been legalized by them all. May 30th was the day that Memorial Day was recognized, no matter what day of the week it fell on until the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363), Memorial Day. This act changed the date that Memorial Day would be observed, so as to create a three day weekend. Some people feel that this act undermined the meaning of the day and contributed to the public nonchalance in observing the true meaning of the day.
Ok, now for the corny part. Please, during all the barbeques, parties and general hilarity of the three day weekend that has come to mark the start of summer, please just take a few moments and think about what Memorial Day really is all about. If you go to a parade, stand up and applaud when the Veterans walk by. Buy and wear a Buddy poppy, the small artificial flowers sold as a fund-raiser for disabled veterans. Talk to your kids about what the day is about. Don't glorify war, but give the veterans of wars the glory they deserve.....and earned...some of them with their very lives.