On May 5, 1868, three years following the end of the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day, encouraging the nation to decorate the graves of fallen war veterans with flowers on May 30. By the end of the 19th century memorial ceremonies were celebrated on May 30 across the nation, and in 1971 Congress officially declared every last Monday in May as Memorial Day.
In 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed and signed into law by former President George W. Bush in an effort to ensure that those sacrifices made by America's fallen heroes will never be forgotten. The act encourages all Americans to participate in a minute of silence wherever they may be at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.
Once those 60 seconds have passed we encourage you to crank up the tunes in honor of those brave soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom with our GRAMMY Memorial Day playlist.
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (iTunes>)
The Andrews Sisters, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, Inducted 2000
By the time the United States headed into World War II, this sisterly trio was established as one of the most successful female vocal groups of that era, frequently appearing at military bases and traveling overseas to perform for troops. They're also remembered for dressing up in military outfits and singing this signature GRAMMY Hall Of Fame tune.
Mariah Carey, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance nominee, 1994
This song is truly a dedication to the heroes who had the strength to cast their fears aside and carry on. While some of these heroes never make it back home, we can rest assured that they are not forgotten. Carey, a five-time GRAMMY winner, heroically climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with this song in 1993.
Destiny's Child Featuring T.I. & Lil Wayne, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration nominee, 2005
In this GRAMMY-nominated collaboration, Beyoncé and the ladies of Destiny's Child call for a partner who is strong, fearless and credible on the streets. Sounds like a soldier to us. This track was also strong on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 3 in 2004.
"Travelin' Soldier" (iTunes>)
Dixie Chicks, Best Country Album for Home, 2002
On their sixth hit to reach No. 1 on the Country Songs chart, the Dixie Chicks deliver a melodious tale that not only recognizes soldiers, but the people and loved ones they've left behind. In this case, it was a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair.
"Heroes Of Our Time" (iTunes>)
DragonForce, Best Metal Performance nominee, 2008
Whether you're remembering a hero of our time, your time or anyone's time this Memorial Day, those who fought for freedom will never be forgotten, and "freedom will rise again," sings this GRAMMY-nominated metal outfit.
GRAMMY Memorial Day Playlist
"I Dreamed There Was No War" (iTunes>)
Eagles, Best Pop Instrumental Performance, 2008
When you just can't find the words to say this Memorial Day, listen to the soft instrumental sounds of this Eagles track off Long Road Out Of Eden, their sixth album to top the Billboard 200.
"The Battle Of New Orleans" (iTunes>)
Johnny Horton, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, Inducted 2002
This GRAMMY Hall Of Fame track recounts the renowned Battle of New Orleans in 1815 in which American forces defeated the British forces' attempt to capture the Big Easy. The song also won a GRAMMY in 1959 for Best Country & Western Performance.
Jay-Z, Best Rap Album nominee, 2008
Jay-Z could no doubt have a few things in common with a soldier — he was raised in the rough Marcy Houses of Brooklyn, N.Y., and worked his way from rags to riches. While some soldiers will never make tangible riches, dying for one's country is certainly more noble by far.
"American Bad Ass"
Kid Rock, Best Hard Rock Performance nominee, 2000
The same Detroit rap-rocker who coined the term "bawitdaba" sings about the shameless, indestructible American badass in this GRAMMY-nominated performance. One would have to be a badass to face war and improvised explosive devices.
"Hero (From Spider-Man)" (iTunes>)
Chad Kroeger Featuring Josey Scott, Best Rock Song nominee, 2002
The story of Spider-Man is not for the faint of heart, and neither is the story of a fallen soldier, but both stories tell the tale of a hero. And it's a hero that can save us, according to Kroeger and Scott on this tune, originally recorded for the Spider-Man soundtrack.
"I Will Remember You" (iTunes>)
Sarah McLachlan, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, 1999
Perhaps one of the most appropriate anthems for the National Moment of Remembrance, this song was first released in 1995 on The Brothers McMullen soundtrack, and was not forgotten in 1999 when it won a GRAMMY.
"Soldier Of Love" (iTunes>)
Sade, Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, 2010
While Sade sings about an internal battle on this GRAMMY-winning track, it's still a battle nonetheless. And Sade clearly won the fight, topping the Billboard 200 with the album of the same name, the group's first studio release in almost a decade.
"A Soldier's Joy" (iTunes>)
Randy Scruggs & Vince Gill, Best Country Instrumental Performance, 1998
This remake of the classic fiddle tune features Gill on electric guitar and Scruggs on acoustic guitar, and would be a joy with which to remember any soldier. It must have also been a joy for Gill when this tune earned him his 13th GRAMMY at the time. (Gill now has 20 GRAMMYs.)
Edwin Starr, Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male nominee, 1970
Starr sings in protest of war on this classic track that helped him achieve legendary status in the soul circuit, but does not fail to recognize the tears that are brought to those who have gone off to fight and lost their lives. Per Starr's words: "War, good God ya'll/what is it good for?/Absolutely nothing!"
"Freedom At 21" (iTunes>)
Jack White, Best Rock Song nominee, 2012
White couldn't be more right when he sings, "We are so free/It is good to be free." Thank you, brave soldiers, for our freedom.
What songs will you listen to this Memorial Day? Drop us a comment and let us know.