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

Memorial Day Banner

Use this banner on social media to share our collection of Memorial Day teaching resources.

Listen to Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"

Speech given by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Available on Lit2Go. Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds.

PDF of "The Gettysburg Address"

Two-page PDF of “The Gettysburg Address.” Reading level: 10.9. Word count: 278.

Tomb of the Unknowns

Photo of flowers placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. One of hundreds from the Arlington National Cemetery gallery on the ClipPix ETC website.

Listen to Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Ode for Memorial day"

Memorial Day poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1895 specifically references the Civil War and mentions decorating the graves of heroes. Available on Lit2Go. Duration: 2 minutes, 10 seconds.

PDF of "Ode for Memorial Day"

Two-page PDF of the Dunbar’s “Ode for Memorial Day.” Reading level: 6.55. Word count: 296.

Arlington National Cemetery

Over 300 photos of Arlington National Cemetery from the ClipPix ETC website. The national cemetery was established during the Civil War on the estate of Robert Lee’s wife, Mary Anna.

Florida National Cemetery

Over 100 photos of the Florida National Cemetery from the ClipPix ETC website. Florida National Cemetery is located in the Withlacoochee State Forest, approximately 50 miles north of Tampa.

Unknowns of the Civil War Monument

The Unknowns of the Civil War Monument was erected in 1865 over a vault containing the remains of 2,111 unknown servicemen. Photo from the ClipPix ETC website.

Confederate Memorial

The Confederate memorial and graves at Arlington from the ClipPix ETC website. Memorial Day honors those who died on both sides during the Civil War.

National World War II Memorial

Several dozen photos of the National World War II Memorial from the ClipPix ETC website. the memorial was dedicated May 26, 2004.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial from the ClipPix ETC website. The memorial was dedicated in 1995.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial comprises the Memorial Wall listing over 58,000 names of those killed or missing in action, the Three Servicemen statue, and the Women’s Memorial sculpture. Photos from the ClipPix ETC website.

Marine Corps War Memorial

This search for “Iwo Jima” will return photos of the Marine Corps War Memorial from the ClipPix ETC website.

United States Navy Memorial

Over 80 photos of the United States Navy Memorial from the ClipPix ETC website. This memorial honors those who have served or are currently serving in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine.