Memorial Day o Día de los Caídos

(CNN) -- Memorial Day honors Americans who died serving their country in wars. It is commemorated annually on the last Monday in May.


Several cities claim to have instituted Memorial Day, but in 1966 Congress declared Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of the holiday.

Memorial Day originally honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865).

Today, it honors all those who have died in a war in the service of the United States. It was also called Decoration Day.


May 5, 1866 - Residents of Waterloo, New York, celebrate a Memorial Day in honor of all those who died during the Civil War. Businesses closed and soldiers' graves were decorated.

1868 - General John Alexander Logan officially proclaims May 30, 1868 as Memorial Day in honor of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. Until after World War I, the southern states held a separate Memorial Day in honor of the Confederate dead.


1971 - Congress declares Memorial Day as a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

December 28, 2000: President Bill Clinton signs the "National Moment of Remembrance Act," which designates 3:00 p.m. local time as Memorial Day each year as the National Moment of Remembrance.

  • The U.S. military considered using nuclear weapons against China in the 1958 Taiwan Strait crisis, according to leaked documents.

When is Memorial Day?

This 2023, Memorial Day is commemorated on May 29.

American Casualties in Wars

Civil war

Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost nearly 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.

World War I

116,516 Americans died, more than half of the disease.

World War II

405,399 Americans died.

Korean War

36,574 Americans died.

Vietnam conflict

58,220 Americans died.

Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm

383 service members died.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

4,410 service members died.

Operation New Dawn

73 service members died.

Operation Enduring Freedom

2,347 service members died.

Operation Freedom's Sentinel

69 service members have died as of May 2019

Operation by Inherent Resolve

76 service members have died as of May 2019