U.S. Culture (week 22): Memorial Day

HTP is committed to maintaining a strong cultural component of it J-1 Program and regularly publishes topics related to U.S. culture. This week, HTP Program Manager Kira Udo discussed Memorial Day.

The kids are running around in the backyard, you’re lying in the sun, by the pool, with a cool beverage in your hand, and eating the best bar-b-que in town. What does this sound like? It sounds like the beginning of the summer and Memorial Day weekend. It’s typically the first weekend of the summer for all of the school kids; it’s when the local pools open and the kick off to the warm weather begins.


It’s one of my favorite times of the year! Most Americans celebrate by having a barbeque with friends, family and neighbors. It is also one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Over 35 million Americans travel for leisure during this holiday weekend.

Image found here.


But as a culture we tend to forget what we are celebrating; unless of course you have a friend, family member, spouse, or even a passing acquaintance that has served in the US Military. It is a day to remember all of the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day falls on the last Monday of May every year.


The day was previously called Decoration Day because fallen soldiers graves were decorated with flowers, wreaths and flags. It began after the American Civil War but there is some speculation on when specifically.

Image found here.

One of my favorite traditions involves the America Flag. The tradition involving the American flag as stated on Wikipedia’s’ page; “On Memorial Day the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolves not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.”

We may forget from time to time and we may use National Holidays as an excuse to be lazy but patriotism is what this country was built on and we gladly Honor those who have sacrificed their lives for us and the families of those who have lost their loved ones in Honor of this country.

To sum up the importance of Memorial Day, it’s history, and how we observe it today is this great quote from Robin Hayes, “Memorial Day this year is especially important as we are reminded almost daily of the greatest sacrifices that the men and women of the Armed Services make to defend our way of life.”


What did you do this Memorial Day Weekend?





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