Congress made the holiday official in 1971, but the practice dates back to the 1860s, when it was known as Decoration Day, an occasion for decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers. Late May was chosen, historians say, because flowers would be in bloom throughout the country.
It was only after World War I that Decoration Day was extended to commemorate the dead from all U.S. battles. Monday we'll remember those soldiers, especially the most recent casualties. Since 2003, according to the Department of Defense, more than 6,800 men and women in the U.S. armed forces have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The horror of war continues to inspire musicians in myriad ways, and for this Memorial Day we've compiled a short list of songs. It's not really a playlist or mixtape for the day, but simply some music that celebrates our heroes, comforts the family and friends of the fallen and causes us all to think — not about this weekend's bargains but the everlasting cost of war.