6 ways to pay respect on Memorial Day

How you can honor those who gave their lives

By Natalie Johnson, CNN
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

(CNN) - Memorial Day is meant to be one of the most solemn American holidays.

First known as "Decoration Day," it began three years after the end of the Civil War, when a former Union general called for a way to remember fallen service members. For decades, Americans marked the holiday on May 30. In 1971, the federal government officially designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.

Here are ways you can honor those who have given their lives for this country.

Take action:

According to the Memorial Day Foundation, there are specific customs for paying respect to fallen service members on Memorial Day:

  • Flying the US flag at half-staff until noon
  • Observing a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time
  • Placing flags or flowers on veterans' graves

How to help:

Here are some charities aiding families of service members who died serving their country:

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.