Memorial Day, initially referred to as Decoration Day, was observed by many communities after the Civil War, when the nation suffered more than 620,000 military deaths, roughly 2 percent of the total population at the time. John A. Logan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of Republic, chose May 30, 1868, as a day to decorate the graves of Union troops across the nation. From this beginning, Memorial Day is now designated as an annual day of remembrance to honor all those who have died in service to the United States during peace and war. Veterans Day, November 11, celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
More than 1 million men and women have died during U.S. military service. Memorial Day is when we take special time to remember them and their ultimate sacrifice.
To ensure the ultimate hallowed duties of America's fallen heroes are never forgotten, The National Moment of Remembrance Act was enacted in December 2000. This law created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.
The Commission's charter is to "encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity" by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.