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The secular and sacred aspects of the day combined pleasure and recreation with mourning and ceremonies to express sorrow and unity.


Generally, though, they are normal people who would rather just have a normal life.

(The date only switched to the last Monday in May by an act passed in 1968).

The New York 1961 described the “taste of Memorial Day” as “red crepe poppies in lapel buttonholes, gleamingly scrubbed Boy Scouts, politicians speechifying in the spring sunshine, wreaths on graves, a languid holiday afternoon at home or at the beach.” When pioneering sociologist William Lloyd Warner explored the meaning of Memorial Day in his 1959 book , about symbolic behavior in America, he argued that Memorial Day provided an opportunity to confront anxiety about death collectively, and that the traditional community parade created a feeling of “euphoria” that mimicked the sense of group strength people felt during war.

With the holiday’s move to Monday at the start of the 1970s, increasing commercialization also turned the weekend into an occasion for shopping, not just sports and vacations.

Visiting the graves of those who died during wartime, though it remains a part of the day for some and is still observed at cemeteries like Arlington, became a less public part of the day.After Vietnam, argued religious historian Catherine Albanese in 1974, the collective nature of Memorial Day that Warner had described not so long before had eroded.


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