’s Memorial Day Party Guide (Printable Page)

Although widely regarded as a time for festivities and celebrations, it must not be forgotten that Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, was established to honor our veterans and pay tribute to the men and women who died while serving in the military.

Originally called Decoration Day, it was established to honor the soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies who died fighting the American Civil War.

Celebrations honoring Civil War heroes started the year after the war ended, and the establishment of a public holiday was meant to unify the celebration as a national day of remembrance instead of a separate holiday celebrated by the Union and Confederate states.

By the late 19th century, it became known as Memorial Day and began to include the veterans of all the wars fought by the American armed forces. It became a federal holiday in 1971.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to stop        wherever they are at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day for one minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to America. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.

And although not the technical start of the season, for most people Memorial day signifies the official start of summer which lasts until its unofficial end on the first Monday of September a.k.a. Labor Day.

To that end (no puns intended!), Memorial Day and Labor Day are often called the “bookend” holidays, marking the beginning and end of the summer holidays in American tradition.

Best of all, because they’re both two of the few times of the year that gives most people the luxury of a three day weekend, there are many activities that take place in or around the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

In this article we’ll be talking about Memorial Day.


“The Weekend” and the month of May altogether is one of the most party-filled and busiest months of the year with all kinds of festivals, concerts and sporting events. Many of which have extravagant fireworks displays as their finales.

There’s also lots of family reunions and gatherings where relatives eat, barbecue and play games in the company of their loved ones.

A popular family event during the Memorial Day weekend is a visit to war memorials and military cemeteries. At the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, the U.S. Army and volunteers place small United States flags at exactly the same spot at each tombstone showing a nationwide display of patriotism that’s both touching and inspiring.

Many people will spend the weekend boating at a lake or the beach with many others opening their swimming pools for the first time of the year as a tribute to the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

On the more festive and celebratory side of the spectrum, the following is a list of Memorial Day events and celebrations to get you into the summer party spirit and the lazy, hazy, crazy frame of mind.



Flying the American flag at half-mast:

While done during all national days of mourning and respect for the fallen soldiers and other men and women in the armed forces, displaying the American flag at half-staff is a Memorial Day tradition.

Attending a speech or concert:

Almost every city will hold a Memorial Day celebration in a park or some kind of public place to bring people together in a unifying way. In addition, many musical acts carry on special performances.

One in particular is held in Washington, D.C. and broadcast on PBS television and NPR radio around the country and the world. Some of the favorite songs that are played include marches written by John Philip Sousa.

Having a back yard barbecue or cook-out:

About as American as it gets, family barbecues are the single most common ways to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend. Foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, steak, and chicken is one of the reasons why this is a favorite time for most people.

Going to beach:

Because it’s widely considered to be the first true weekend of summer, many people flock to the coast for some warm weather, sun rays and waves. Whether it’s the Pacific coastline, the Jersey Shore or the tip of Florida, Americans love their weekend at the coast.

Staying at home watching the race:

There are two distinct Nascar races held over Memorial Day weekend. The Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. They’re attended by thousands and watched by millions more at home.

Detroit Electronic Music Festival:

Now called the “Movement Electronic Music Festival,” this electronic dance music festival is one of the largest music festivals in the world and the largest in Detroit.

Cincinnati Fringe Festival:

Although technically taking place the day after Memorial Day, the Cincinnati Fringe Festival is still a noteworthy celebration. It’s 12 days of Theatre, Film, Visual Art, and Music in the heart of Over-the-Rhine. It’s also Ohio’s Largest Performing Arts Festival.

Urban Beach Week in Miami:

One of the biggest beach parties and music festivals in the country. This is a wild party with the focus primarily on African-American culture and music. It’s one of the most anticipated events on Memorial Day Weekend and the streets and beaches are jam-packed with partiers.

Many venues host live music from popular musicians and DJs or you can party on a boat cruise or dance the night away in one of Miami’s hottest nightclubs.

New York City Fleet Week:

A weeklong party as members of the U.S. Armed Forces arrive on ships, parading down the Hudson River. Countless parties and events are held in the city during the week before Memorial Day, and having the soldiers in town for the occasion makes it all the better.

One of the biggest and most popular celebrations is held on the USS Intrepid at Pier 86 on Memorial Day. It includes a 100-foot flag, a rifle salute, and a military fly-over.

Arlington National Cemetery:

Probably the best known Memorial Day ceremony. Various groups decorate each of the more than 330,000 graves with an American flag during the week before Memorial Day. The service is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and includes music, speeches, and a wreath-laying ceremony.

Lantern Floating Ceremony, Honolulu, Ha.:

Maybe the most meaningful Memorial Day event in America is the Lantern Floating Ceremony in Honolulu. Especially important in Hawaii because thousands of soldiers who fell during the War in the Pacific are buried there, including many from the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Open to anybody, guests are given paper lanterns and a little boat to float the lit lanterns into the water from the beach. At sunset, the many thousands of these little lights remind everyone of the lives that were lost during past conflicts, an especially moving way to celebrate the holiday.


Let us know how you celebrate Memorial Day Weekend. Leave us a comment below or email us at