Day 4: A New Way to Remember

Memorial Day in Thomaston, Maine 1890
When the war was over and the dead were all buried, American society had to move on.  People needed a way to ensure they would not forget the terrible war they had experienced.  At the same time, they could not let the memories of the war consume them.  What was the proper tribute?

Part 1: Memorial Day's Start


First, print or get a copy of the handout "Memorial Day's Start" and pre-read the questions.

Then, read the excerpt from "Remembering War the American Way" about how the day was founded and answer the accompanying questions on the handout.

Finally, watch the "History of Memorial Day" video clip below to see more information about how the holiday started and how it became an official holiday in modern American society.  Answer the accompanying questions on the handout.

Be prepared to discuss the questions from the handout with the whole class.


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The excerpts in this activity are from this book.
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This video, created by the History Channel, History of Memorial Day, describes how Memorial Day grew out of a northern tradition, known as Decoration Day.  Use it to answer questions on the "Memorial Day's Start" handout.

Part 2: Class Discussion

This video, created by the History Channel, A Memorial Day Tribute, is meant as a tribute to the American soldier in observance of Memorial Day.  What does it tell you about what the tradition, started just after the Civil War, has come to mean for Americans almost 150 years later?