Document Type

Lesson Plans


Memorial Day--Study and teaching;


Learning Objectives

  • Understand the origins and history of Memorial Day and the evolution of its traditions.
  • Analyze, compare, and contrast traditions over time. Infer how the holiday’s meaning changes by looking at how it has been observed over the last 150 years.

Relevant National Cemetery

  • All national cemeteries

Lesson Overview

  • The activities in this lesson examine the origins of Memorial Day and the symbols, traditions, and rituals associated with it over time. Examples of current community celebrations and service projects are included. The three activities may be used separately or together, as suits the needs of the group or class.


Department of History


This lesson plan was developed for the Veterans Legacy Program, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veterans Legacy Program offers educators an integrated new suite of lesson plans designed to teach students about the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans, and to take advantage of our national cemeteries as historic places for teaching and learning — both in the classroom and on-site. The educational resources of the Veterans Legacy Program draw on rich stories from national cemeteries to offer teachers a variety of hands-on activities directly connected to national curriculum standards.

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