Memorial Day, Last Monday in May

Arlington flag at half staff

A Few Things to Remember When Recognizing Memorial Day

Memorial Day is set aside each year to act as a nation in solidarity and to honor America's fallen soldiers. Of course, we also want to carry forward their mission of liberty and justice for all.

Half-Staff on Memorial Day is a Unique Observance

Flag display on Memorial Day differs from other half-staff observations.
In accordance with United States Code, 2006, Supplement 1, Title 4, Chapter 1,

"The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff."

According to traditional observance, the half-staff position is intended to honor over one million people who have died in the service of their country. At noon, the raising of the flag to the peak is symbolic of the pledge of the living, who resolve to continue the pursuit of liberty and justice for all.

Arlington tombstones

Memorial Day History — Origins in the Civil War, Birthplace at Waterloo

What is now known as Memorial Day was created three years after the end of the American Civil War, and was focused, at the time, on honoring those who lost their lives in Civil War battles. In 1868, Major General John A. Logan declared May 30 to be the official observation date of Memorial Day.

While there are several communities who dispute the claim, in 1966, Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the "birthplace" of Memorial Day. This decision was based on the longevity and the manner of their local observations, as well as the date that those traditional observations reportedly began.

Preceding Decoration Day

Every year, families, friends, and volunteers visit cemeteries and grave sites to place Small American flags and Grave Markers in honor and commemoration.

Since the late 1950s, over 1000 soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry have placed American Grave Marking flags at each of the gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery every year. This tradition, known as "Flags-In," continues to take place on the Thursday before Memorial Day and honors more than 260,000 fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day Expansion

Based on early practices in ceremonies all over the country, it has become a Memorial Day tradition to visit and place flowers at the graves of fallen soldiers. The practice of honoring fallen soldiers in this manner became so widespread that after World War I the holiday was expanded to honor the fallen soldiers of all American wars and conflicts. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday by Congress, and the date of observation altered to the last Monday of May.

National Moment of Remembrance

Taps on Memorial Day

In December of 2000, Congress passed an act, the National Moment of Remembrance Act, for all Americans to observe a National Moment of Remembrance. At 3 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to pause in silence for one minute to honor and remember America’s fallen heroes.

This moment is widely recognized by several organizations, including Major League Baseball, NASCAR, Greyhound, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc. During that time, AMTRAK trains will blow their horns, and many radio and television stations acknowledge the moment by pausing their scheduled programming and playing “Taps”.


Order of Display for Flags (left to right)

When displaying multiple flags, remember that the Flag Code has designated a particular order, regardless of whether the flags are flown outside, carried in a parade, or displayed indoors with a Ceremonial Flag Display Set.

First - The Flag of the United States of America. If displayed with other flags, the American Flag should always be larger than the other flags or relatively the same size as the largest flag. If the flags are displayed together on poles or display stands, the American flag should always be flown higher than the other flags or displayed on the (flag’s own) right.

Second - State Flags are flown in alphabetical order (left to right).

Third - Military Flags are flown in order of their establishment (left to right).

  1. Army Flag
  2. Marine Corps Flag
  3. Navy Flag
  4. Air Force Flag
  5. Coast Guard Flag
  6. Space Force Flag

Fourth - Other flags representing municipalities, cities, organizations, etc...

Displays of Pride and Appreciation

Communities across the country often recognize and celebrate Memorial Day by hosting special events and by proudly displaying American and Military Flags, indoors, outdoors, and even with an "Avenue of Flags" leading up to the building or event.

For this purpose, LIBERTY FLAGS has a comprehensive selection of indoor and outdoor American Flags, as well as Indoor and Outdoor Military Flags. Right now is a great time to gear up for Memorial Day and get great savings and Free Shipping on your new Outdoor American Flags.

Have questions? Since 1982, we've helped thousands make the best flag-flying decisions. We'd love to help you, too.

Arlington National Cemetery

Photo call!

Send us your pictures of Memorial Day festivities, American flags, flagpoles, ropes, or other accessories! We would be honored to feature your photography in our blog or on Facebook. Remember, photos of damaged flags and accessories are valuable, too.

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Have a great day, from your friends at LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®.

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