Each year, Americans pause to remember and honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. First established as Decoration Day after the Civil War, the holiday was set aside for families and friends to visit and decorate the graves of troops lost in the conflict. As time went on, the observance instead became known as “Memorial Day,” until 1971, when Congress declared it an official holiday set to fall annually on the last Monday in May.
We can celebrate Memorial Day together though shared experiences, even in this unusual time of social distancing.
Honor. Remember. Never Forget.
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is committed to observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed for our nation while protecting the health and safety of visitors and our team members. National cemeteries will be open for visitation throughout Memorial Day weekend. Families and friends are welcome to place flowers or individual flags at veterans’ gravesites. Cemetery visitors are asked to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local health and safety guidelines, and local travel restrictions. See the full NCA COVID-19 Alert and Memorial Day information.
- Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum, Detroit
Dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen, the Tuskegee Airmen came from every section of the country with large numbers out of New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Learn about the Tuskegee Airmen and view photo galleries here.
- Women’s Memorial, Arlington, Va.
The Women in Military Service for America Memorial (Women’s Memorial) is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history. We are proud to recognize their devoted patriotism and bravery as an integral part of our national heritage. Read their history in America’s Military Women—The Journey Continues.
Oakland County’s map is dedicated to local service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country while in the service. Family and friends of the service members have entrusted Veterans’ Services with their pictures and stories. They were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, uncles and friends. Each one represents a loved one lost and a sacrifice for our country.
Connect with family and friends using video chat and watch the concert or events together.
Attend a Virtual Concert
- National Memorial Day Concert
Sunday, May 24, at 8-9:30 p.m. and 9:30-11 p.m.
Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise return to co-host the 31st anniversary broadcast of the annual concert honoring the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. The night of remembrance includes personal stories interwoven with musical performances. There will also be a tribute to workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attend a Virtual Ceremony
- Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony
Monday, May 25, 10-10:30 a.m.
Mark Memorial Day with our annual Remembrance Ceremony at 10 a.m. on Facebook with special messages and remarks from Ryan Manion, president of the Travis Manion Foundation and sister of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, USMC, who gave his life in service to his patrol and his country, and President and CEO Lt. General Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army (retired). Following this brief ceremony, continue to remember beloved servicemen and women on social media with #IWillAlwaysRemember, #NVMM and #MemorialDay2020.
- Memorial Day Ceremony
Monday, May 25, 1-2 p.m.
While current events unfolding across the country and the world have made it impossible for us to gather in person to remember and honor those who served and sacrificed all for our country, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation will be hosting an online observance of this important day. Join in this commemoration by writing a message or sending in a video.
Watch a Movie
- Spend time with loved ones watching a war-themed movie during the long holiday weekend. Good Housekeeping magazine compiled a list of 20 Best Memorial Day Movies to stream on Netflix and Amazon.
- Netflix Party lets you remotely watch with friends and family.
Create Heartfelt Gifts
- Get creative by making cards and writing letters to service members. Support Our Troops will send them to deployed soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.
- Print Crayola’s coloring sheets with a Memorial Day theme for children in your household to decorate.
- Surprise your neighbors with a “porch drop-off” of homemade baked goods.
Plan a Backyard Cookout
For many families, Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer.
Over the long weekend, plan a summer cookout and prepare your family’s favorite summer picnic dishes. If you’re looking for inspiration or want to prepare a new dish, visit Food Network for The Best Recipes for a Memorial Day Cookout.
- Oakland County Farmers Market
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Sundays 8 a.m.-noon
The Oakland County Farmers Market has resumed its summer operation. Fresh fruits and vegetables are from farmers and direct-produce vendors from 17 counties across Michigan. COVID-19 safety measures are in place, including hand sanitizing stations on-site and increased cleaning of restrooms, doors and high-touch surfaces. Shoppers are required to wear masks inside the market, and the building is limited to 50 shoppers at a time.
Communicate on neighborhood social media pages/groups to collaborate with others nearby.
- Display the American Flag
Learn when and how to display the American flag properly.
- Chalk the Block
Invite neighbors to draw pictures and write happy messages in chalk in driveways and sidewalks. Following social distancing, take a walk around your neighborhood and admire art.
- Window Displays
Spread joy and patriotism by hanging handmade art, coloring sheets or cut-outs in front windows. Individuals and families on walks can feel connected to one another.
- Oakland County Parks
Oakland County Parks and Recreation waived entry fees for county parks until June 1, inviting residents and other guests to enjoy a walk in the park at no cost. The county parks system offers nearly 80 miles of trails and encompasses 7,000 acres, and has trails for walking, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian riding. Visit oaklandcountyparks.com for information about each location. The normal charge for the day-use park is $5/vehicle for county residents and $12/vehicle regular rate.