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This Memorial Day, join VA and honor those who served

On this year’s Memorial Day—Monday, May 27—you will find ceremonies in communities across the country, including at the honorable burial grounds managed by our colleagues in the National Cemetery Administration and in our own facilities.

Over the next few days, Americans from across the country will gather at cemeteries and memorials to honor and remember the service members who gave the last full measure of devotion.

This weekend—and beyond—we invite you to join Veterans and their families in celebrating the day and the meaning behind it.

Commemorating the fallen

Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, but after World War I, Memorial Day became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars.

The day was eventually more widely established as a national holiday throughout the United States, but at the state level. It was not until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed in 1971 that Memorial Day was cemented as a federal holiday commemorated on the last Monday of May.

With our VA colleagues, we will begin the day by flying our flags at half-staff. In keeping with tradition and etiquette, those carrying our colors will raise the flag to the top of the flagpole (or “staff”), and then lower it solemnly to the halfway point as a salute to the brave people who served and sacrificed all in service.

Our greatest acknowledgement will come at 3:00 p.m., when we observe the National Moment of Remembrance. At this time, we will pause in our daily activities and reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have lost their lives fighting for the United States.

Whether alone or in a group, whether in silence or listening to the mournful notes of “Taps,” take this moment to acknowledge and spread the true meaning behind Memorial Day with your actions.

Memorial Day traditions

Many Memorial Day traditions stem from its origins as Decoration Day. On this day, as they do today, volunteers would decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. 

Part of the modern decorations can be seen not only on the gravestones of the fallen, but on those who salute them, as many of us will display red poppies.

Known as the “flower of remembrance,” the poppy gained popularity following World War I, when a Canadian surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, penned the poem “In Flanders Fields” and described red poppies growing between soldiers’ graves.

Now, artificial poppies are made by patients and residents in VA hospitals and homes, with proceeds going to support those affected by war.

Commitment to service

At VA, we believe what we do isn’t just work. It’s a calling, a commitment to shared service that brings our team together. Every day, we come to work knowing that what we do will make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.

Given the sacrifices made by these brave souls, how could we do any less?

If you would like to stand with us, there are many opportunities to do so, including as a volunteer. Across VA, the Voluntary Service strives to meet the needs of America’s Veterans, and there are numerous opportunities for you to participate, no matter your expertise or training.

  • The Physician Ambassador Program provides medical professionals with a chance to give back to the Veteran community.
  • Student volunteers can engage in an important learning opportunity and provide a valuable element of caring for Veterans.
  • The Compassionate Contact Corps is a virtual social prescription program for Veterans who may be experiencing loneliness or are socially isolated.

Depending on the needs at your local facility, there may be other ways that you can explore what it means to work at VA, so search our directory of VA facilities and reach out to the volunteer coordinator in your area.

Work at VA

As you remember the Veterans in your life and your community this Memorial Day, consider what it means to be part of a team that serves Veterans every day.

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