Memorial Day in New York: the essential activities of this holiday

A few words of history on Memorial Day

It was at the end of the Civil War that this tribute began. At that time, tradition had it that the graves of soldiers were decorated with flowers, but on May 5, 1868, John Alexander Logan (an American soldier and politician) proclaimed the tribute as a holiday. The  Decoration Day (which became Memorial Day in 1882) was first celebrated at Airlington National Cemetery. The new name “Memorial Day” became common after World War II and was formalized in 1967.

For its part, Congress adopted the Uniform Monday Holiday Act on June 28, 1968, which moved the date from Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to offer a 3-day weekend. This law took effect on 1er January 1971.

Please note: Memorial Day and Veterans Day should not not be confused : Veterans Day honors all veterans.

Decoration Day - Memorial Day: why a name change?

In the beginning, Memorial Day was a day of tribute to all Union soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War (or American Civil War). But in 1882, the name Memorial Day appeared and it was not until after World War I that it became common. This name was then formalized in 1967, after World War II. Why this change? To celebrate all those who died in combat ou during their military service and not those who died only during the Civil War. This is how the name Decoration Day became Memorial Day.

Memorial Day: what to do in New York on this day?

Memorial Day is a statutory holiday. Schools, post offices, banks… are therefore closing their doors on this day. Many people also decide to make this day a day off in order to take advantage of this three day weekend. But if you're in New York for Memorial Day, know that many activities await you !

Pay tribute to those killed in action

On this Memorial Day, some people decide to go to the city ​​cemeteries to pay tribute to those who died during their military service or while serving in the armed forces. For this day of commemoration, the American flag is also half mast.

Visit the sights of the city

Many people also take advantage of this holiday to go sightseeing and visit the monuments of New York (here is a top 10 to give you some ideas). Eh yes ! During Memorial Day, the tourist sites remain open! You can therefore continue your discovery of the emblematic places of the Big Apple!


Some people also organize a picnic with family or friends. If you also want to eat outdoors, I advise you to pack your basket and go to Central Park. Sitting on the grass, you can have a good time in the middle of this emblematic park and locals.

Getting to the beach

As indicated beforehand, which says Memorial Day, says beginning of the summer period. This day is therefore ideal to get to the beach, no ? In New York, several beaches are worth a detour and offer you fun activities: volleyball courts, basketball courts, ping-pong tables and more await you. And if the weather allows it, don't hesitate to dive in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean!

Among the interesting beaches of New York, there are those of Staten Island, Long Island or even those of Brooklyn, the most famous of which is that of Coney Island. Moreover, the latter is the most popular and every summer, it attracts thousands of people who come to refresh themselves and have fun at the Luna Park. This amusement park is open from March to October, so take Memorial Day to go! You will find thrilling rides, others suitable for families ... At Luna Park, you will not have time to get bored!

Go to Governors Island

For Memorial Day, there are children's activities and outdoor concerts on Governors Island. If you feel like it, take the ferry!

Attend parades organized in the city

In New York, three parades are scheduled for Memorial Day:

  • A Manhattan : la Memorial Day Parade.
  • A Brooklyn : la Brooklyn’s Memorial Day Parade.
  • In the Queens : la  Little Neck Douglaston Parade.

For these parades, firefighters, police, marines and soldiers march through the streets of New York.

Memorial Day: think of Fleet Week!

Memorial Day falls at the same time as the Fleet Week, a tradition that aims to promote the US Navy, the Coast Guard Corps and the Marine Corps. Fleet Week lasts a week. For this event, you will be able to see a parade of ships, participate in several activities and take the opportunity to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum!

Now you know what activities you can do if you are in New York City during Memorial Day. As you can see, there is plenty to do! You just have to choose your activities and enjoy this holiday!

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