Every loss leaves a family. Every family has a story.

"Memorial Day is an opportunity for a grateful nation to acknowledge the men and women who served and died. It ensures that Americans never underestimate the high price of freedom and never forget the heroes who bravely defended it. Say their names, share their stories, and support those they left behind.." ~ Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder



For most Americans, Memorial Day is a single day dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of a few for the freedom of an entire nation. But for military survivors, Memorial Day is every day. While many will spend the day marking the beginning of summer — attending a barbeque or parade — TAPS families will visit the graves of our fallen heroes, remember great love, and rededicate themselves to becoming the living legacies of service and sacrifice. The heaviness of the day is a weight we bear together because, as a member of the TAPS family, you will never grieve alone, and the life and service of your loved one will never be forgotten.  #honorthem


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Frequently Asked Questions About Memorial Day

Observed on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday and national day of remembrance, dedicated to all who served in the military and died.

Every day is Memorial Day for the families of our nation’s fallen heroes. TAPS cares for all those grieving the loss of a military loved one. Learn more about TAPS and how we care for all those grieving the death of a military or veteran loved one.

During the American Civil War, communities held memorial tributes and decorated the graves of fallen troops. It was first celebrated nationally as "Decoration Day" in May 1868.

The month of May was chosen for the holiday for practical reasons — there were no existing battle anniversaries and flowers would be in bloom and available for decorating graves. The term "Memorial Day'' became commonly used throughout the 20th century, and it became the official holiday name in 1967 by an act of Congress.

Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, recognizes all who have served in the military. It provides a day to recognize the service of living veterans.

Armed Forces Day celebrates all the military branches and those currently serving in them. President Truman and other senior leaders settled on a single day of recognition, rather than individual observances for each service branch, to herald the strength and legacy of our joint defense force.

No, several countries have a day dedicated to honoring their fallen service members. Some countries include civilian casualties of war or acts of terrorism in their day of remembrance.

TAPS International works to build stable societies for surviving victims of conflict and surround grieving families with hope and healing.

Over Memorial Day weekend, communities in the U.S. hold parades or ceremonies that might include memorial walks, wreath layings, or flag placements, and it is customary to visit military graves and memorials. Arlington National Cemetery hosts the annual National Memorial Day Observance — traditionally attended by the President and members of the administration, and Washington, D.C., holds the National Memorial Day Parade. All Americans pause for a moment of silence at 3 p.m. for the National Moment of Remembrance to reflect upon the sacrifices made for our freedoms.

Surviving military families commemorate the day in a number of ways; thousands will gather with TAPS at the Annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp in Arlington, Virginia.

Support the TAPS mission. One of the most meaningful ways to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation's heroes is by caring for their loved ones. Learn how you can volunteer or donate to support our mission

Visit a cemetery near you to pay respects to local heroes who served and died. 

Fly an American flag at your home or business. On Memorial Day, the U.S. flag should be flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to the top of the staff until sunset.

Memorial Day is about remembrance. Recognizing their fallen hero by saying their name and sharing a memory won't startle a survivor; every day is Memorial Day for families of the fallen.

At TAPS, we honor and remember those lost and support the families they left behind each and every day — no matter the relationship to the hero or how that hero died. Learn more about TAPS and ways you can support our nation’s military surviving families.

Though Arlington National Cemetery is considered the nation's hallowed ground, there are almost 200 U.S. national cemeteries for military personnel — both within the country and abroad. There are also state-run veterans cemeteries and cemeteries managed by tribal governments. Many of our nation's heroes are also interred in private cemeteries.

Learn more about veteran funeral honors and memorial benefits via TAPS Casework.

The World War I poemIn Flanders Fields," by John McCrae, captured the powerful imagery of red poppies blooming on war-torn battlefields in Europe. The flowers seemed to represent the voices of those who'd fallen there — piercing otherwise fallow soil so as not to be forgotten. The poem became a customary symbol surrounding veterans and fallen troops.