Ways to pay your respects on Memorial Day

(CNN) — Memorial Day is meant to be one of the most solemn American holidays.

First known as “Decoration Day,” it began three years after the end of the Civil War, when a former Union general called for a way to remember fallen service members. For decades, Americans marked the holiday on May 30. In 1971, the federal government officially designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.

Here are ways you can honor those who have given their lives for this country.

Take action:

According to the Memorial Day Foundation, there are specific customs for paying respect to fallen service members on Memorial Day:

  • Flying the US flag at half-staff until noon
  • Observing a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time
  • Placing flags or flowers on veterans’ graves
A Soldier from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) places U.S. flags at headstones in Section 43 during Flags In at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, May 24, 2018. For more than 60 years, Soldiers from the Old Guard have honored our nation’s fallen heroes by placing U.S. flags at gravesites for service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery just prior to the Memorial Day weekend. Within four hours, more than 1,000 Soldiers placed 234,537 flags in front of every headstone and Columbarium and niche wall column. This was Harkin’s third year participating in Flags In. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery)

How to help:

Here are some charities aiding families of service members who died serving their country:

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