Memorial Day is a revered American holiday that honors the memory, patriotism, courage and ultimate sacrifice of American soldiers. In 1971, the last Monday in May was declared the official day for observing the memories of the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the United States military.

In the years after the American Civil War, a tradition began in cities and towns around the country. Citizens began decorating the graves of military dead with flags and flowers honoring their memory and service to our country. For this reason, the original holiday was known as Decoration Day.

“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”

This Monday in communities all over American, people will gather together in solidarity and support, “cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes.” Many will visit the consecrated graves of soldiers in hallowed grounds of our nation’s cemeteries.

As cultural exchange sponsors, we are asked to share our America’s culture and traditions with foreign visitors, guests and immigrants from other nations, so that they may know the strength of our nation and the conviction to freedom that is the hallmark of American heritage.