Memorial Day, or a day of remembrance, is a holiday that’s held in solemn honor throughout the world. It’s a day set aside to honor those who have given their lives for their country and the causes of that country. However, it’s largely considered an American holiday, though many countries around the world honor the military service of its compatriots. Generally, Memorial Day is considered a day to decorate, honor, and preserve the memories of those who have died in military service.
Israel – Yom Hazikaron
Yom Hazirkaron is generally celebrated in mid-April to honor those who lost their lives in the struggle of the establishment of the state of Israel. Starkly different from other Memorial Day traditions, during Yom Hazikaron, everything in Israel is closed for 24 hours and a siren wails twice throughout the country. During this time, the entire country stands still for two minutes. The first siren is heard at the beginning of Yom Hazikaron, and the second is the following day at 11 a.m., which marks the beginning of public prayer at military cemeteries.
Russia – Victory Day
Commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 9, Russia holds its own Memorial Day remembrances on this day to recall the millions of Russian soldiers who died fighting World War II. Originally, the day of remembrances was a somber representation of the countless soldiers who died fighting the war. Now largely used as a showcase to illustrate the might of Russian military, large-scale parades are held in Red Square, Moscow.
Australia & New Zealand – Anzac Day
Anzac Day is April 25, and the countries of Australia and New Zealand honor their fallen together as an ode to the combined forces of the two countries. "Anzac" stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp, and April 25 was the first day the combined forces experienced combat during World War I during a battle with Turkey. Memorial services held in the morning on the beach are part of the remembrances of the service members who died. There’s also a national moment of silence and a wreath-laying ceremony at the national war monument in Australia.
Canada – Remembrance Day
Also called Armistice Day—or in the United States, Veteran’s Day—Canadians recognize Remembrance Day on November 11. At 11 a.m., the armistice, which officially ended World War I, was signed. Canadians have been marking this solemn event since 1921, and many of the traditions have remained the same. Large public ceremonies, church services, and two minutes of national silence are all observed.
South Korea – Memorial Day
The Korean War began on June 6, 1950, and now June 6 serves as South Korea’s Memorial Day. A national moment of silence is observed at 10 a.m. to honor those who died fighting for South Korea’s right to exist. It’s common practice for the South Korean flag to be hung in doorways of families who lost a service member during the war. Similar to American traditions, South Koreans also lay flowers on the graves of fallen service members.
Our shared humanity is to commemorate the dead and fallen heroes of our wars and conflicts. Each nation has a unique culture; however, we all demonstrate honor and respect for those who died in battle. The names of the holidays or day of remembrances may differ, but one thing is clear: Every year families, descendants, and nations pay tribute to the heroes who paid the ultimate price with their lives.