Memorial Day usually means three-day weekends, BBQ’s, huge sales, and spending time with family. But I’m sure most of you know by now that is not the true meaning behind it. Memorial Day is meant to honor those that have given their lives so that we can enjoy those things. As we sit back and take in the May sunshine, swim, eat, and drink, don’t forget to take a moment to really show respect and appreciation to those that gave their lives so that we can all live in the United States of America.
Top 7 Reasons Why Memorial Day Matters
1. Decoration Day – Memorial Day wasn’t always the name of this symbolic national holiday, until 1882 it was known as Decoration Day. This is the day when those mourning their loved ones would go place flowers and other tokens of memorial on the graves of their fallen soldiers. However, a concern was raised on how to honor the soldiers that were never returned home. So, in order to commemorate ALL fallen heroes, Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day.
2. Origin – Many cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day but only one has been federally recognized as such. Waterloo, New York was chosen by the federal government as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo was chosen because of their community-wide patriotism which includes flags hanging at most homes and businesses and the residents respect to the fallen soldiers by beautifully decorating their graves.
3. Difference between Memorial Day & Veteran’s Day – Although both days are meant to honor the service of our heroic soldiers, Memorial Day is specifically
4. First recorded Memorial Day ceremony – One of the earliest Memorial Day ceremonies was held by liberated slaves, honoring some 300 Union soldiers who had been kept as prisoners and eventually died due to illness and disease. After being kept at a race track in Charleston that was used as a makeshift prison for captured soldiers of the North and buried in a mass grave, recently freed slaves would use their new-found freedom to pay respect to the men that died for their liberation. The Men and women who were once property of the Confederates used their first act of freedom to honor the fallen soldiers from the North by exhuming the mass grave and holding a proper burial; complete with the decoration of the burial site. This is how the name Decoration Day came to exist.
5. Memorial Day traditions – In the year 2000, Congress passed a bill that would designate 3:00 PM as the National Moment of Remembrance. This is the time that Americans across the nation are meant to stop what they are doing, bow their heads, and take one minute of silence to honor the brave men and women that paid the ultimate price for our country. If you are wondering how to pay your respects locally, there are several ways that have become a tradition over the years. Visit your local veteran’s cemetery and pay your respects there. You will be able to identify which ones they are as most of the time families or local groups and charities will decorate the headstones. If your local cemetery does not have a tradition like this, organize one. It would mean a lot to the family of the fallen hero to know their loved one is not forgotten. There are also parades in many cities across the nation you can attend. Check your local paper or search online for more information about parades and other ceremonies.
6. State to State differences – Although we are the United States of America, states have their own ways of celebrating this day and it comes down to location more than anything. With tension still ever present after the Civil War, Southern states chose to honor their fallen soldiers on an entirely different day than the Northern States, who chose to keep the tradition aligned with recent ceremonies. It wasn’t until after World War I that southern states joined the rest of the nation in observing the holiday with the rest of the country.
7. Pay respect to POW’s/MIA – According to the Department of Defense, more than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War. Flying the POW/MIA flag reminds people of their sacrifice and their families’ too.
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