Throughout my life, I thought Memorial Day was just a day to remember the dead, a day off and a banking holiday. I didn’t learn in a class or was ever told what Memorial Day is and why we celebrate it. So let’s educate those who don’t know, including myself.
What is Memorial Day and why do we celebrate it?
“Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.” -USMemorialDay.org
Originally to celebrate the dead who fell from the Civil War. Decoration Day was officially proclaimed May 5, 1868 to be celebrated May 30th. First celebrated by New York in 1873. After World War I, Decoration Day changed from honoring those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any way. Now called Memorial day, it’s now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May. Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.
How do we celebrate Memorial Day?
Although the pool and a BBQ for this warm holiday sounds like fun, many cities celebrate with a parade. It’s appropriate to visit cemeteries and memorials and pay your respects. Memorial Day is also the unofficial beginning of summer as temperatures rise and schools are out till the fall.
What’s the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
Memorial Day is celebrated in May and was originally in honor of those who died fighting in the Civil War.
Veterans Day is celebrated in November and began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I.
A great way to celebrate Veterans who are alive?
Just because a family member didn’t die as a result of service to the United States, doesn’t mean you should leave them out on Memorial Day. Invite them to your BBQ or pool party and ask them about some good positive stories about their service.
-Written by Valerie Michel Buck