Special Event


"The last full measure of devotion"--The Civil War Origins of Memorial Day

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine


Fee for entrance into the historic Star Fort is $15 per adult (age 16 years and up). America the Beautiful National Parks Passes are also accepted. Fee information is available at: https://www.nps.gov/fomc/planyourvisit/fees.htm

Repeating Event


Every day


May 25, 2024 to May 27, 2024


9:00 AM


7 hours

Type of Event

Guided Tour
Living History


On May 25—27, 2024 Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine will offer special programs focusing on the Civil War origins of Memorial Day. The weekend will feature a Civil War living history encampment and ranger programs focusing on how Memorial Day began.

During the Civil War Americans witnessed the loss of over 620,000 brothers, husbands, and sons in uniform. Using poetry and prose of the Civil War era, rangers will share the story of how various communities coped with the loss of their loved ones during the war. Families sought solace for their loss and visited their local churchyards to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Out of this practice the concept of Memorial Day emerged as a day to honor those who died in service.

Throughout the weekend visitors can experience the sights and sounds of the Civil War through living history demonstrations. Hear the roar of the drums as the Civil War quicksteps of the Fort McHenry Guard Fife and Drum Corps echo across the parade ground. Take a walk through the Star Fort with a ranger to learn about Fort McHenry’s controversial role in the Civil War as the “American Bastille,” and help our rangers raise the stars and stripes over the ramparts.

Visitors may also explore the exhibits and feature movie in the Visitor and Education Center.

Program Schedule

Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26
10:00 a.m. Morning Flag Change (inside Star Fort)
11:00 a.m. Remembering the Vacant Chair: Memorial Day and the Civil War (Chesapeake Map)
2:00 p.m. American Bastille: Civil War at Fort McHenry (starts at Chesapeake Map)
5:00 p.m. Evening Flag Change (inside Star Fort)

Memorial Day, Monday, May 27
10:00 a.m. Morning Flag Change (inside Star Fort)
12:00 p.m. Origins of Memorial Day and flag-raising ceremony (inside Star Fort)
3:00 p.m. National Moment of Remembrance
4:00 p.m. Evening Flag Change (inside Star Fort)


Reservation or Registration: No