Did you know that Memorial Day (in the United States) was originally called Decoration Day?
Decoration Day originated after the American Civil War to honor, remember, and decorate the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in combat. By the 1880s, Decoration Day was gradually and informally being referred to as Memorial Day. In 1967, it was declared the official name by Federal law.  By that time, the day had also extended to remember all Americans who had given their lives in service to the United States Armed Forces.
One of my favorite presidents, Ronald Reagan, summed up Memorial Day and extended a challenge to all Americans in his May 31, 1982, speech at Arlington National Cemetery. His words still ring true, and I pray that ten, twenty, a hundred years from now these words describe our nation, not our nation’s history.
The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.
 Alan Axelrod (1 June 2007). Miracle at Belleau Wood: The Birth of the Modern U.S. Marine Corps. Globe Pequot. p. 233. ISBN 978-1-59921-025-4