Monday, May 30, 2022
Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May each year. Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in military service for their country. Memorial Day and Veterans Day are often confused. On Memorial Day, America honor those who died while serving in the military whereas on Veterans Day, the country celebrates everyone who has served in the military.
Memorial Day was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War and it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.
Memorial Day and Labor Day are often referred to as bookend holidays, marking the beginning and end of the summer holidays in the United States.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day for one minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the US. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
Memorial Day in the United States, a Day of Remembrance
Held on the last Monday in May each year since the mid 1800’s, Memorial Day is one of the most special days for those who had family members in the various wars, battles, and conflicts over the decades.
The holiday started in the aftermath of the American Civil War when veterans from the Northern Army started a day called “Decoration Day.” This day was originally designed to honor those who died in the Civil War between the North and South. However, it became a fully celebrated day in the North only two decades later. A couple decades after this, the rest of the expanding country of the United States of America adopted it as well.
Memorial Day Activities and Traditions
For those who observe this day, there are a number of patriotic activities which are typically done to honor the country and its soldiers.
Some of the following are events which will take place every year during Memorial Day:
- Flying the American flag at half-mast. This is done during all national days of mourning or days of respect for soldiers and other men and women in the armed services.
- Attending a speech or concert. This is one of the favorite activities for those who wish to honor the country and its people. Almost every park or public space will hold a Memorial Day celebration in order to bring people together in a unifying way. In addition to events scheduled for this day, most musical groups hold special performances. There is a national event in Washington, D.C. This is broadcast on PBS television and NPR radio for all to hear around the country and the world. Some of the favorite songs include marches written by John Philip Sousa.
- Having a back yard barbecue or cook-out. These social gatherings are very American in nature, and Memorial Day weekend is one of the favorite times to host such events. In fact, since Memorial Day itself is a holiday off from school and work, the three day weekend induces many to have cook outs in their backyards. Common foods include hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob, steak, and chicken. One of the reasons why this is a favorite time to hold BBQ’s is that this weekend typically marks the beginning of summer.
- Going to beach. Since this is the first true weekend of summer, many people head to the coast for some warm weather and waves. From the Jersey Shore to the tip of Florida, Americans like to spend this holiday weekend at the coast.
- Staying at home watching the race. There are two very notable races which are held on Memorial Day. They are the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. These races are attended by thousands and are watched by millions.
As the meaning of Memorial Day has broadened to include events not originally associated with Decoration Day, more and more Americans choose to celebrate the day.
With the country currently involved in armed conflicts overseas, though, most of the country is more interested in what goes on with the country’s military and other armed forces.