The History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day as we know it is observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It originated sometime after the Civil War and was named a federal holiday in 1971. It should not be confused with Veteran’s Day, which celebrates the service of all United States veterans. On Memorial Day, the flag is raised to the top of the staff then slowly lowered to the half-staff position where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position honors the more than one million men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.
Every year, the White House hosts a National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. Many Americans will attend one of the thousands of parades across the country. One of the longest-standing traditions of Memorial Day is the Indianapolis 500 automobile race. In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 15:00 (3:00 p.m.).
For many people, this day will be spent barbecuing and swimming in pools while others will observe the holiday by remembering those who it’s for. It is great that a holiday can bring friends and family together; however, please take note this is not a holiday just to have a day off, sitting around drinking beer, or deciding who has the best float at a parade. This is one of the first holidays in history that honored American servicemen and women. For many, this holiday brings back memories of a loved one or loved ones that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day is a day to remember why we can do the things we do and why we have the things we have. It is a day we stop and be thankful to those who gave their lives for freedom and for millions of people in the United States and across the world. We must continue to honor their memory and their families by observing this day for what it was meant to be.
How to Remember
Many say they celebrate Memorial Day. I say there should never be a celebration on Memorial Day. This is a day of observance. There are many ways we can honor those who died. Many will walk the shallow fields of a military cemetery, placing flags on the burial crosses or sites of our fallen men and women. Others will get on a motorcycle and stop in places across the country, thanking the family members of those who died. I believe the easiest way to honor our fallen soldiers is simply by remembering them. If you know a family member or friend who has lost a father, son, daughter, or brother, be sure to show your respect to them. Offer not only your thanks but your condolences to the many who laid down their lives for each and every one of us. To me, there should be no such thing as, “Happy Memorial Day.” Do you think there is a friend or family member that is happy their loved one is not here today? Instead, people should say, “In loving memory from each of us, we are forever indebted to those who gave their lives and to those who lost a family member or friend.” I ask everyone who reads this to truly observe Memorial Day by taking a moment of silence at 1500 local time to honor our heroes who have sacrificed their lives for our safety and freedom across the world.