Flowers of Remembrance Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Visitors participate in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration Flower Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on Nov. 9, 2021. Photo credit U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is holding its first Flowers of Remembrance Day on May 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

“The Unknown Soldiers gave their lives and their identities in service to our nation. We had such an overwhelming response to the flower ceremony during the Centennial Commemoration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in November 2021 that we will again allow our visitors to honor and respect their sacrifice by placing flowers at their graveside,” said Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera in a release.

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The event pays tribute to the first official Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day, which originally took place in Arlington National Cemetery in 1868 as a way to honor the sacrifices of those who fought and died in the Civil War.

The first Decoration Day featured a procession from Arlington House to the Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns and further into the cemetery, where people decorated the graves with flowers. It became an annual tradition and established Arlington as the site of the nation’s official, annual Decoration Day observance.

“Every day is Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery Charles “Ray” Alexander. “This special day will provide the American public the opportunity to honor and remember at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and explore the national shrine that we are entrusted to preserve and protect."

ANC historians will offer history talks at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the center of the Memorial Amphitheater to share the history of Decoration Day. An optional walking tour will follow the 10:00 a.m. talk only.

Flowers will be provided or members of the public may bring any long-stemmed flower to place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Visitors should not bring vases, wreaths, or flowers with any packaging or plastic containers. The public is also encouraged to bring water and wear comfortable shoes for walking to the Tomb plaza.

As part of Arlington National Cemetery’s new Education Program, an educational module on the history and significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is available here.

Reach Julia LeDoux at