Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, commemorates U.S. service members who died while in the military service.
First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.
Veterans Affairs operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA's national cemeteries. In 2017, VA honored 361,892 veterans and their loved ones with memorial benefits in national, state, tribal and private cemeteries.
On Monday morning, hundreds of people showed up to Fort Snelling National Cemetery to honor their loved ones and remember the sacrifices many made. The Memorial Day program included a band, wreath presentation, and speeches from Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Brigadier General Jon Safstrom.
They talked about how this summer marks the 100th anniversary of when U.S. troops deployed to fight in World War I - and what Monday means for us all.
"So one of our focuses on this day is to not only honor those who died, but how we can honor their memories by making sure each generation going forward has a better life," said Klobuchar.
"It's a day to remember that the freedom we have, like our rights, liberty, democracy, is not free," said Dayton. "It had to be won and must always be protected."
Over at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, people also gathered for a ceremony to honor our fallen heroes.