Memorial Weekend in the Nation’s Capital: Honoring Those Who Served (photos)


“We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.”  anonymous 

For most Americans, the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, conjuring up images of cook-outs and visits to the beach. The last Monday in May serves, most importantly, as a time to honor those who died while fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended the honor to all soldiers who died in American wars. 

In our nation’s capital, the holiday weekend unofficially began on the proceeding Thursday with the ceremonial planting of more than 250,000 flags by soldiers from the U.S. Army Old Guard on every gravesite, columbarium and niche wall at Arlington National Cemetery. The 3d U.S. Infantry, traditionally known as “The Old Guard,” is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving the nation since 1784.

The climax to the holiday weekend is the National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. — a flag-waving event with patriotic marches and floats. The parade is sponsored by the World War II Veterans Committee and was the first since 2019 due to the pandemic.

View a slideshow of Jeff Malet’s photos from Memorial Day weekend in D.C. by clicking on the photo icons below.

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