Memorial Day Etiquette
Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer filled with picnics, barbecues, and excursions. But don’t forget the meaning behind the day. Established to honor the men and women who lost their lives protecting our country, Memorial Day is a solemn time to show respect. With that in mind, we’ve created a Memorial Day etiquette guide to help you observe the day.
Displaying the Flag
Memorial Day is one of nineteen days designated by the US Flag Code on which it is especially important to display the US flag. The Code provides that on Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff until noon (local time). At noon, it should be raised to the top of the flag staff.
Here is the procedure for flying a flag at half-staff:
- Raise the flag to the top of the flag staff for a moment.
- Lower the flag to half-way down the flag staff.
For more information on the rules to follow to correctly display and care for the US flag, visit our flag etiquette section.
Observing the Flag
If you are attending an event or ceremony where the flag is raised, please follow these Memorial Day etiquette tips for observing the US flag: Stand, remove your hat, place your hand over your heart, and remain silent for a moment.
National Moment of Remembrance
Established by President William Clinton, the National Moment of Remembrance is a full minute of silence beginning at 3:00 PM (local time) on Memorial Day to reflect on fallen service men and women. If you do nothing else to observe Memorial Day, no matter what you are doing, at 3:00 PM take a minute to remember why this day was established.
Visit a Monument, Cemetery, or Museum
Memorial Day is a great opportunity to take a moment to visit a monument to fallen heroes, pay respect during a cemetery visit, or learn more about our nation’s history at a museum.
Attend a Parade or Ceremony
There are many Memorial Day parades and ceremonies held across the US. Show civic pride by attending one of these special events. And read our parade etiquette rules to make the day more enjoyable.
Share a Message
Share of message on social media thanking a veteran or reminding others to take a minute at 3:00 PM to remember our veterans.
From 36 USC 116: Memorial Day:
"§116. Memorial Day
(a) Designation.—The last Monday in May is Memorial Day.
(b) Proclamation.—The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation—
(1) calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;
(2) designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace;
(3) calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and
(4) calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.
National Moment of Remembrance
National Moment of Remembrance Act
White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance
SEC. 4. NATIONAL MOMENT OF REMEMBRANCE.
The minute beginning at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day each year is designated as the 'National Moment of Remembrance'." 36 U.S.C. § 116.