While Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer (and is often celebrated with picnics, family gatherings, barbeques, weekend getaways, and sporting events), the holiday is really about something completely different.
This holiday commemorates and honors all of the men and women who died while serving our country. Memorial Day was originally founded to honor the soldiers who gave their lives in the Civil War, but it has since been expanded to include all wars involving the United States military. It has been recognized as a federal holiday since 1971.
Traditional Memorial Day observances include visiting cemeteries and memorials as well as attending parades and dedications. A National Moment of Remembrance also occurs at 3pm local time across the nation.