Do Mormons Celebrate Memorial Day? Yes, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Morman Church” by others) celebrate local and national holidays. Mormon families (in the United States of America) celebrate Memorial Day, which commemorates and honors all American soldiers, especially those who have given their lives in war. It is also a day to honor the deceased, whether they have been soldiers or not.
Mormon families celebrate Memorial Day in their own way and have their own traditions. Many LDS families enjoy the time off of work. Some Mormon families may reflect upon their religious freedom, visit graves of their ancestors or loved ones, or write letters to soldiers. Youth worldwide have volunteered in activities in preparation for the Memorial Day holiday. Examples include weeding the cemetery (Jeanette Waite Bennett, Service of Sorts, New Era, February 1996) and mapping the “planned roads and sections for the cemetery, so unmarked graves would not be disturbed” (FYI: For Your Information, New Era, July 1982).
Why Mormon Families Celebrate Memorial Day:
The scriptures teach Mormon families the value of freedom and liberty. The prophet Moses freed hundreds of slaves from captivity (Exodus 12:51). Moroni (captain of the Nephite army in the ancient Americas as recorded in The Book of Mormon) said, “I… do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free” (Alma 61:9).
Modern prophets still teach the importance of patriotism and freedom. The modern prophet Joseph Smith taught, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. We believe in modern prophets, agency, and obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Article of Faith 1:11-12, Pearl of Great Price). The living prophet Thomas S. Monson has said:
[M]ay we acknowledge gratitude for our country—the land of our birth. When we ponder that vast throng who have died honorably defending home and hearth, we contemplate those immortal words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The feelings of heartfelt gratitude for the supreme sacrifice made by so many cannot be confined to a Memorial Day, a military parade, or a decorated grave (“An Attitude of Gratitude,” Liahona, May 2000).
Unique Perspective of Mormon Families:
Although a couple of my uncles have been in Iraq in dangerous war zones, I have found peace knowing that I can trust in God. Latter-day saints understand their purpose in life and believe that life doesn’t end after death. The plan of salvation (doctrine teaching the meaning of life) brings great hope to those who have lost loved ones in war and other tragedies. Modern prophets have taught:
The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally…
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995).
I invite you to study the plan of salvation and learn for yourself why God allows suffering and evil to occur. It will also give you the hope and perspective needed when your loved ones have died whether in war or by other causes. I am thankful for every soldier that has served my country in the defense of freedom. Memorial Day is a holiday that helps me remember to not take my freedom for granted.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.