Memorial Day. For some people, it’s a three-day reprieve from the office grind. For others, it’s a time to remember family and friends who gave their lives in service of their country. For the nation, it signifies the sacrifices that countless men and women have made to sustain the American Dream.
Here are nine things you might not know about Memorial Day:
1. It began after the Civil War: Due to the mass casualties caused by the Civil War, the burying and memorializing of the dead took on special significance for the citizens of the newly united America. Memorial Day grew out of the tradition of decorating the graves of these fallen soldiers with flowers.
2. No one knows who was first: Multiple cities claim to be the birthplace of the Memorial Day tradition. Savannah, Georgia; Warrenton, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; Columbus, Mississippi; Carbondale, Illinois; and Columbus, Georgia all claim to have had a hand in the very first Memorial Day celebration. In May of 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation that made Waterloo, New York the official origin point of the holiday.
3. It wasn’t always “Memorial Day:” For many years, the holiday commemorating fallen American soldiers was referred to as “Decoration Day.” The name was officially changed to “Memorial Day” in 1967.
4. Women played a big role: Memorial Day may have begun as a way to honor male Civil War soldiers who’d died in battle, but it was the women they left behind who helped inspire the idea behind the holiday.
5. Three-day weekends are required by law: Memorial Day was originally celebrated on May 30th. But the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 changed the official observance dates of Memorial Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day and Washington’s Birthday (eventually President’s Day) from their actual dates to specific Mondays throughout the year, creating the fabulous three-day weekends we all enjoy.
6. Flag at half-mast for half the day: Surprisingly, the American flag only spends half of Memorial Day at half-mast. The first half of the day is dedicated to honoring those who have fallen in service to their country. Then, after noon, the flag is raised in order to symbolize the indomitable American spirit and commitment to fighting for freedom and justice.
7. Indy 500: Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has been held on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
8. Flowers for those who fought: The National American Legion designated the poppy as their official symbol of remembrance in 1920. An iconic World War I poem entitled “In Flanders Fields,” which referenced the poppies that sprung up in between the graves of fallen soldiers on a battlefield in France, is said to have led to the widespread adoption of the poppy as a memorial icon by multiple countries.
9. A nationwide moment of silence: In 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance Act,” officially designated 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day as a minute of silent remembrance in honor of those who’ve fallen in service to their country.
Memorial Day is about honoring the deceased, but it can also be a time to reflect on how well we’re attending to the needs of the living veterans who fought alongside their now-fallen brethren.
LET'S FREEDOM & JUSTICE PREVAIL!!
GOD BLESS AMERICA!! GOD BLESS THE AMERICANS!!