On the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, Americans commemorate their dead. Originally, the fallen soldiers of the American Civil War were honored on this day and their graves were decorated with flags and flowers, but now this memorial day is equally valid for all the fallen and deceased.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a national holiday. In cities all over the United States, celebrations commemorate all those men and women who died in the war or in the service of their Fatherland. In many communities, war veterans hold special ceremonies in cemeteries or at war memorials. Parades are held and memorial services or special commemorations are held in churches, schools or other public buildings. The president or Vice President of the United States makes a solemn speech and lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Members of the army shoot a volley of rifles into the air. Veterans and family members come to lay their own wreaths and pray. It is a day of remembrance.
On Memorial Day, however, not only all those Americans who died in the war are honored. It is also a day of personal remembrance. Many Americans spend the day in memory of their deceased, either alone or with the whole family. Divine services, visits to the cemetery, flowers on the graves, and also silent commemoration give dignity and solemn seriousness to the day. But for many Americans, Memorial Day also means the beginning of summer with a first long weekend, which they spend on the beach or in the mountains or just relax at home.
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