May: Memorial Day
The last Monday in May is celebrated as Memorial Day in the United States. The holiday began with the custom of decorating graves after the Civil War. Eventually, separate Decoration Day holidays practiced in the North and in the South were merged into a national Memorial Day holiday to honor all Americans who died while in military service.
So, with the singing of paeans and chorals,
And with the flag flashing high in the sun,
Place on the graves of our heroes the laurels
Which their unfaltering valor has won!
—Paul Laurence Dunbar
Excerpt from Ode for Memorial Day
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Memorial Day poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1895 specifically references the Civil War and mentions decorating the graves of heroes. Audio and PDF vailable on Lit2Go. Duration: 2 minutes, 10 seconds.