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May 26, 2022

Memorial Day 2024: Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Last updated on May 21, 2024

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Memorial Day 2024—SIX MILES NORTH of downtown sits the Nashville National Cemetery. One of 155 national cemeteries maintained by the VA’s National Cemetery Administration, the US government acquired most of the cemetery’s 65 acres immediately following the Civil War.

The remains of more than 36,000 soldiers from all wars are interred here, including 16,485 known Union Civil War soldiers. The cemetery is also the final resting place for 4,141 unknown soldiers in unmarked graves.

Like many Nashvillians, I often drive past this cemetery without considering its significance (or even its existence). It’s not that I’m ungrateful or lack patriotism. But like so many of us, daily commutes can become mundane.

As I drive through the limestone archway at the entrance for the first time, I’m humbled by the sheer size of the cemetery. Rows of white granite headstones dominate the landscape. Trees accent the rolling hills and provide shade in the summer heat.

When I reach the far west side of the cemetery, I decide to stop my car and get out. As I walk around reading the names on the headstones, one immediately stands out.

John H Roberts – Tennessee. 

Private 319th Infantry, 80th Division, 

World War II

May 20, 1922-December 30, 1944

He would’ve been 102 years old.

This Memorial Day, hundreds of Boy Scouts and other volunteers will walk the manicured lawns and decorate the graves with small American flags—symbols of the sacrifice that Private Roberts and so many have made to keep our country free. ~


What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It’s a day to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

When is Memorial Day 2024?

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. Memorial Day 2024 falls on May 27, 2024.

The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day, and it was established to commemorate the Union soldiers who had died during the Civil War.

Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo, N.Y., was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by Congress in 1966, it isn’t easy to prove the holiday’s origins.

Over 100 years after the holiday was first established, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971. Memorial Day was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May to create a three-day Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day weekend events now mark the unofficial start of summer for many Americans.

MEMORIAL DAY IMAGE of a boy holding US flags at a parade.

The Difference Between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a solemn day to remember and honor those who have died serving our country, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Memorial Day Meaning

Memorial Day is also a day to reflect on the cost of freedom and remember the brave men and women who paid the ultimate price. It’s a day of remembrance, and it’s an integral part of our national history. The holiday is also a day to honor the families of fallen soldiers. They’ve sacrificed as well, and they deserve our support and admiration.

Memorial Day Traditions

Traditionally, people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day, and volunteers often place American flags on each gravesite at national cemeteries.

We can show our support for the fallen and their families by flying the flag at half-staff. A national moment of remembrance often takes place at 3 pm local time.


The History of the Poppy on Memorial Day

One tradition on Memorial Day is to wear red poppies. The red poppy became associated with Memorial Day because of the poem “In Flanders Fields.” The poem was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who served in World War I. He wrote the poem after he witnessed the death of his friend and fellow soldier, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer.

How to Observe Memorial Day

While some people visit the graves of fallen soldiers, others take part in Memorial Day parades or attend Memorial Day concerts. Some choose to spend time with family and friends or reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day in silence.

There are many ways to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. No matter how you choose to remember those who have died serving our country, Memorial Day is an important day to reflect on the sacrifices made for our freedoms.

Our national cemeteries serve as a somber reminder that our freedom is not free. The rows of graves are more than just graves on hallowed grounds—they’re husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers; they’re heroes.

It’s up to us to ensure that heroes like Private John H Roberts are never forgotten.

Memorial Day 2024 image of Veteran's Cemetery.

About the Author

Trisha Penrod Bio Photo

Trisha Penrod

Trisha Penrod is a former active-duty Air Force officer. As an Intelligence Officer, she led teams of analysts to apply advanced analytic skills to identify, assess, and report potential threats to U.S. forces.

Trisha attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Webster University.  After receiving an honorable discharge in 2018, Trisha worked as a growth marketer and utilizes her analytic skills to help others accomplish their business goals.

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