5 Little-Known Facts About Memorial Day
Contributed by: Amy, Share Lemonade
Amidst the barbeques, parades, and other festivities, the true meaning of and history behind Memorial Day can be easily overshadowed by celebration. While many of us have come to acknowledge Memorial Day as the official start of the summer season, it is important to remember that this holiday is about so much more.
Here are a few bite-sized facts about Memorial Day that you can chew on as you celebrate with – or safely apart – your loved ones this weekend.
1. It All Began in 1868
We didn’t always recognize Memorial Day as a national holiday; we have General John A. Logan, a historic head of a group of Union veterans, to thank for that. In 1868, he led a campaign to recognize a holiday, originally introduced as “Decoration Day,” where communities would gather to decorate the graves of soldiers. Over time, people began to refer to the celebration as “Memorial Day,” leading to the holiday’s official name change in 1967.
2. No, It’s Not the Same as Veteran’s Day
While the two holidays are often combined or used interchangeably, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are two completely different celebrations. Memorial Day is a day meant for celebrating all of the service men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty. Veteran’s Day, however, is a day dedicated to honoring all service men and women throughout history, including those still living. We also celebrate Armed Forces Day, which honors active members of the armed forces.
3. A Tribute at 3 PM
Every Memorial Day, a national moment of silence takes place at 3:00 PM. This tribute was formally introduced in 2000, when Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which encourages people everywhere to take a moment to pay respect to our fallen soldiers.
4. Your Eyes Aren’t Deceiving You, Those Flags Are Moving
Especially in larger cities, you may notice that the American flags around town are positioned at different mast lengths throughout the day. The Department of Veterans Affairs published guidelines for the holiday, which state that the flag should be raised to the top of the pole first thing in the morning and then slowly lowered to half-staff, where it should remain until noon. This, of course, is a symbolic tribute to our fallen troops. At noon, the flag is raised back to full staff in honor of all active service men and women.
5. We Didn’t Always Celebrate on a Monday
Looking forward to this long weekend? That wasn’t always the case. Memorial Day was officially moved to a Monday in 1968 as one of the five holidays included in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act – which was specifically created so that American workers could enjoy the three-day weekend celebrations we’ve all come to know and love. Some veterans’ organizations still aren’t crazy about this change, feeling it diminishes the holiday’s meaning.
No matter how you’re celebrating this weekend, there are plenty of opportunities to remember the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. Holding a moment of silence during your festivities, visiting a veteran’s memorial or simply thanking an active service member are all great ways to pay respect to our nation’s heroes.
How will you be celebrating this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!
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