For many of us, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to the summer season. But we should never forget the true meaning of Memorial Day itself (Monday, May 29) — an occasion to honor those who died while serving their country.
The national holiday traces its roots back to 1868, when a group of Civil War veterans on the Union side felt there should be a day to “decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Hence, the holiday’s original name — Decoration Day — which was observed on May 30 supposedly because flowers would be in bloom throughout the country by then.
That said, even before 1868 some cities, both on the Union and Confederate sides, had been honoring the Civil War dead with local springtime events, leaving open to debate where and when Memorial Day may have actually started. In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., as the birthplace of the holiday, pointing to an 1866 ceremony held in that city.
Either way, Memorial Day became a more significant day on the calendar across the country — and over time, it grew in scope to encompass other wars that American soldiers fought in. In 1971, the date was shifted at the federal level from May 30 to the final Monday in May as part of a broader act that established official observance dates for other holidays.
Memorial Day is marked with a variety of events, both solemn and fun. Here are some things to keep in mind in terms of openings and closures.
Is the post office open on Memorial Day?
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will not deliver mail on Monday. FedEx
will not be operating, except for its Custom Critical shipments; FedEx Office stores will have modified hours. Similarly, UPS
will not offer service, save for its Express Critical shipments; UPS Store locations are closed.
Are banks open?
Banks are generally closed, according to GoBankingRates.com, although you can always visit an ATM or use your banking app.
Are stock markets open?
All U.S. stock and bond markets are closed.
Are government offices open?
Are schools open?
Schools are typically closed on Memorial Day, though it’s always best to check with your local school district.
Are most stores open?
Not only are stores generally open on Memorial Day, but the three-day weekend is one of the biggest sale occasions of the year, according to RetailMeNot. The savings site says deals can be found on everything from patio furniture to footwear, but it notes big savings can especially be found on mattresses, bedding, spring apparel and cookware.