Observed on the last Monday in May, this holiday is a time of remembrance for all Americans who have lost their lives in battle. This tradition sprang from the aftermath of the Civil War, and has expanded to include all wars where American soldiers have fought. The dead are honored with programs in public meetings, cemeteries and churches. It is customary to fly the American flag on Memorial Day, and many Americans also visit cemeteries to mark soldiers' graves with small flags or memorial wreaths.
Unrelated to the more somber occasions of the day, this holiday is also associated with the pleasures of an extended weekend and unofficially marks the beginning of summer for people. Families often go camping or make the most of their extra day with a road trip or adventure.