It’s Memorial Day. For some, that means an extra day off of work, a day to bar-b-que and hang out with friends by the pool, or another day to sleep in. For others, it is a day that represents the ultimate sacrifices over 1 million people have made for the freedoms that we enjoy here in America every single day. The problem is, too many have forgotten the reason for Memorial Day and have forgotten the people who gave it all, blood, sweat and tears, for them and their families.
Let’s take a look at the history of Memorial Day, in order to understand the greater meaning of the day. Memorial Day was first used in 1882, but was commonly referred to as Decoration Day until after World War II. The first mention of a remembrance of those who gave their lives for the country came in 1861 when a civil war soldier’s grave was decorated. The Federal Government officially recognizes the first Memorial Day to be in 1866, but there are several records that show earlier years to have existed prior to 1866.
The Memorial Day that we currently observe was instituted by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968. Prior to this Act, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th every year. The Act moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in the month of May. This allowed for the creation of a 3-day weekend every year for Memorial Day, as well as the beginning of the end for the real meaning of the holiday.
The real meaning of Memorial Day is to remember the ultimate sacrifice that was paid by men and women in the military.
If you visit any of the National Cemeteries today, you will find each headstone decorated with a small American flag to pay tribute to the Veteran whose remains are interred there.
The National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed in 2000 to call for a time of silence at 3:00PM. There is also a movement spearheaded by a Veterans group called the #GoSilent campaign that seeks to draw attention to the 3 o’clock hour for a moment of silence to remember the nations war dead.
So, when you sit down today with your pulled pork sandwich, and crack open a cold beverage, don’t forget to pay your respects to the multitude of men and women who don’t have the same privilege because they never returned from fighting for your freedom.
All gave some, some gave all.