Memorial Day Printables

Learn About the Significance and History of the Holiday

Memorial Day Printables
Gary Conner / Getty Images

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, developed in the late 1800's. Waterloo, New York, was officially declared to be the birthplace of the holiday, though similar celebrations were held in many cities in the years following the Civil War.

Waterlook held one of the first organized events honoring Civil War soldiers who died in the war on May 5, 1866. The event took place at the urging of Waterloo resident, Henry C. Welles. Flags were lowered to half-mast, and the people of the town gathered for ceremonies. They decorated the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers with flags and flowers, marching to music between the three cemeteries in the city.

Two years later, on May 5, 1868, the leader of the Northern Civil War Veterans, General John A. Logan, called for a national day of remembrance on May 30.

Initially, Decoration Day was set aside to honor those who had died in the Civil War. However, after World War I, fallen soldiers from other wars began to be recognized. The day, widely celebrated on May 30th throughout the country, became known as Memorial Day. 

As the United States was involved in more wars, the holiday became a day to recognize men and women who died in defense of their country in all wars. 

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to establish 3-day weekends for federal employees. For this reason, Memorial Day has been celebrated on the last Monday in May since being declared a national holiday in 1971.

Today, many groups still visit cemeteries to place American flags or flowers on soldiers' graves. Use the following free printables to help your students understand the significance of the day.

Memorial Day Vocabulary

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Introduce your children to vocabulary associated with Memorial Day. Students can use a dictionary or the Internet to look up each term and write it on the blank line next to its correct definition. 

Memorial Day Wordsearch

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Print the pdf: Memorial Day Word Search

Let your students review Memorial Day related vocabulary in a fun, stress-free way with this printable word search. All of the terms can be found among the jumbled letters of the puzzle.

Memorial Day Crossword Puzzle

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Use the clues provided to fill out the crossword puzzle with the correct terms from the word bank.

Memorial Day Challenge

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Print the pdf: Memorial Day Challenge

See how well your students remember the Memorial Day terms they've been learning with this Memorial Day Challenge. Choose the correct word for each clue from the multiple choice options provided.

Memorial Day Alphabet Activity

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Students can practice their alphabetizing skills and review the Memorial Day terms by placing each term from the word bank in correct alphabetical order.

Memorial Day Door Hangers

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Remember those who served with these Memorial Day door hangers. Cut out each hanger along the solid line. Then, cut along the dotted line and cut out the small circle. For best results, print on card stock.

Memorial Day Draw and Write

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In this activity, students will practice their composition, handwriting, and drawing skills. Students will draw a Memorial Day related picture and write about their drawing.

If your family has a friend or relative who lost his or her life in service to our country, your students may wish to write a tribute to that person.

Memorial Day Coloring Page - Flag

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Your children can color the flag as your family discusses ways to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom.

Memorial Day Coloring Page - Tomb of the Unknowns

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a white marble sarcophagus located in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. It holds the remains of an unknown American soldier who died in World War I. 

Nearby, there are also crypts for unknown soldiers from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. However, the tomb of the unknown Vietnam soldier is actually empty because the soldier originally interred there was identified by DNA testing in 1988.

The tomb is guarded at all times, in all weather, by Tomb Guard sentinels who are all volunteers. 

Updated by Kris Bales