Memorial Day was born out of the horror of the Civil War, when more than 600,000 soldiers - Union and Confederate - fell in battle. Over the years it's become a day to honor all the men and women who have given their lives in the cause of freedom. How can you observe Memorial Day?
o Fly the American flag at half-staff, until noon.
o Travel to Washington. Tour some of the city's many memorials to fallen heroes, and attend the always-poignant ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
o Take in the National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. If you can't make it in person, tune into the PBS broadcast of the performance by the National Symphony Orchestra and a crew of special guest artists.
o Join in the observances at a military base or cemetery near you. Check social media, or call the closest military base, American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars post to find out what's happening and when.
o Remember those who fought and lived to tell about it: Take some flowers, books or cookies to a nearby veterans' hospital.
o Continue a classic tradition: Put flowers and flags on the graves of departed friends and family ' civilian as well as military. If you live far away from the final resting place of anyone you knew, decorate the grave of a stranger.
o Have your annual beginning-of-summer barbecue, or spend the three-day weekend at your favorite getaway spot, but take a little time out from fun and games to reflect on the day's real meaning and the fact that freedom isn't free.