• 2015.06.19
  • Spending Memorial Day
It is the last Monday in May, Memorial Day.
Originally, Memorial Day was a public holiday created to commend soldiers of the Northern Army who died in the Civil War, but after WWI, it became a day to commend all soldiers who died in war or conflict. Today, it is a day to remember all people who have passed away. In addition, although unofficial, in the United States Memorial Day has also come to be perceived as marking the start of summer, so many pools also open on the same weekend. Many Americans visit graves during this 3-day weekend and have barbecues and picnics, while children go to the pool.

Arlington National Cemetery, where fallen soldiers lie, is located south of Washington, D.C. across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia. Families come to pay their respects from all over the country, so the day before American flags were placed in front of each gravestone. A wreath-laying ceremony was held by veterans in front of the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” where unidentified soldiers are entombed.


Members of Rolling Thunder, an NPO composed primarily of veterans, also gather in Washington, D.C. on this weekend. This organization aims to call attention to the existence of prisoners of war (POWs) and those missing in action (MIAs). Members bring their oversized motorcycles, such as Harley Davidsons that symbolize the “American man,” and hold a rally around the National Mall. Their numbers easily exceed 1 million, so they borrow a portion of the parking lot at the Pentagon (headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense) and depart from there. Whether it is the thunderous roaring or the many American flags attached to the motorcycles, it is a sight to see.


On Sunday night, a free concert is held in front of the Capitol and broadcast live throughout the country.

Also, on Monday, Memorial Day, a parade marches down the road taken during the Rolling Thunder rally, traveling in the opposite direction. Active-duty soldiers, veterans, high school students from various towns, as well as people wearing the uniforms and dress of the Civil War and Vietnam War eras parade down the street.

This year, since I was with my infant son, I was only able to see a little at a time, but it was a weekend in which I keenly felt the strength of patriotism and memorializing for those who gave their life for “America, the land of the free.”


  • Ritsuko Derickson
  • JobStay-at-home mom

Moved to Washington, D.C., in 2012 after getting married. Due to her husband’s work, shortly thereafter they moved to Oahu, Hawaii, then returned to Washington, D.C., in 2015. She lives together with her husband, their son born near the end of 2014 and one Shiba dog.

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