What is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a U.S. Federal holiday that falls on the last Monday of each May. It honors servicemembers of the armed forces who fell in the course of their duties, whether in war or in peacetime. In observance of Memorial Day, all York County Libraries locations are closed.
Memorial Day started in the late 1860s to remember and acknowledge the lives of United States servicemembers who died during their term of service in the Civil War. Towns took to cleaning up and decorating the graves of fallen soldiers and servicemembers in May each year. Because of this, it was called “Decoration Day.” The tradition became more prominent after the first National Cemeteries were dedicated. (These include nearby Gettysburg National Cemetery and Arlington National Cemetery.) In 1977 it became a federal holiday, and officially falls on the last Monday in the month of May.
Honoring the Day
The point of the day is to remember lives lost while in service to their county. There are many ways to honor those servicemembers who have passed. (Thanking veterans, while usually a nice gesture, is not appropriate for the day, because this is a day for fallen comrades.)
You might take place in a moment of silence at 3:00pm, watch a parade, or wear or display a red poppy to signal your remembrance of lives lost. You can see if any local military cemeteries have volunteer opportunities to help weed gravesites. Or take the time to walk through a cemetery or memorial and read the names of those who have passed.
You can find an extensive list of war memorials in York County here: https://www.ydr.com/story/archives/2016/12/21/list-war-memorials-york-county/95695328/ Perhaps you can pay a visit, and read the names engraved on them.
Or you might enjoy our recent Zoom into History session, which focused on World War II Stories. (Check out the Zoom Into History Playlist on our YouTube Channel. It has military history, local history, and information on how to explore your own family history. Click Subscribe when you do!)
Find books that explain Memorial Day in a kid-friendly way here (there’s a mixture of fiction and nonfiction): Memorial Day Books for Kids
Find military service stories for Teens here: Nonfiction Military Service Stories for Teens
Find fiction history stories for Teens here: Historical Fiction Stories for Teens
Adult nonfiction: Military nonfiction books for adults
Adult fiction: Military fiction books for adults