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May 25

Memorial Day and Federal Cemeteries

Posted on May 25, 2022 at 1:43 PM by Tracey Boswell

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. This year it is May 30, 2022.

This entry highlights government resources for Memorial Day and Federal Cemeteries.

 First recognized as Decoration Day in 1868, Congress standardized the holiday as Memorial Day in 1971 and set its observance to the last Monday in May. It is specifically planned to mourn the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Other days which celebrate American service personnel are Armed Forces Day (also in May) and Veterans Day (November 11).

In recognition of Memorial Day, the American flag is flown at half-staff as a sign of respect and mourning. The flag protocol indicates that the American flag is raised to the top of the pole and then lowered half way.  The flag is also flown at half-staff when there is a tragedy or significant death in the United States.  If you would like to get notifications when the flag is to be flown at half-staff, visit the Half Staff American Flag Notifications page  or  the Kansas Governor's page.

Half-staff-flag against blue sky

On Memorial Day weekend, Americans enjoy concerts, parades, ceremonies, and other means of remembrance. Here is an image from a parade in Beloit, Kansas. Unofficially, Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer and enjoyed by gatherings, picnics, boating, and camping.

Beloit KS parade

Learn more about Memorial Day at:

U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

The National Archives

United States Census Bureau


United States military cemeteries are under the guidance of the National Cemetery Administration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  

These cemeteries also have Memorial Day ceremonies and other events.  The burial plots are available to veterans and their spouses. If you have questions about your eligibility or benefits, please contact the National Cemetery Administration . There are 155 national cemeteries in 42 states and Puerto Rico, and 34 soldiers' lots and monument sites.

The most famous military cemetery is Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia,  owned by the US Department of the Army. It is comprised of 639 acres. On the website you can explore the graves of astronauts, medal of honor recipients, famous musicians, noted sports figures, and search for an individual grave.

arlington cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

President John F. Kennedy, who died November 22, 1961, and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, are buried at Arlington. National Cemetery. Nearby is an eternal flame of honor. These graves, and all the others in the cemetery, are open to visitation by the public.


Tombs of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at Arlington, honors fallen soldiers.  It has inspired reflection on service, valor, sacrifice, and mourning since November 11, 1921.  It is guarded by an elite squad 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Changing of the Honor Guard (every thirty minutes in the summer, every 60 minutes in the winter) is popular with visitors.

Large tomb monument

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Honor Guards

In Kansas, there are five military cemeteries: Fort Leavenworth, Fort Scott, Leavenworth, Baxter Springs City Soldiers’ Lot, and Mound City Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot. You can search for all State and Tribal Cemeteries at their website.

Moundcity soldiers cemetery

Mound City, Kansas Soldier's Lot