Often “celebrated” as the holiday that kicks off the beginning of summer, Memorial Day has a much more meaningful origin. It was established as a somber day of remembrance for those who died in service to the United States. Originally called “Decoration Day,” the holiday was borne out of the Civil War; however, it was intended to recognize the sacrifice of all Americans who died serving the United States, regardless of the particular battle.
To help re-educate and remind Americans about the true meaning of Memorial Day, in 2000, the government passed the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution. It asks that at 3pm local time, all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
Traditional protocols for observing Memorial Day include raising the U.S. flag briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowering it to half-staff, where it remains until noon. At noon, it is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position is in remembrance of the more than one million men and women who have given their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
Other traditional observances include wearing red poppies, visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of the fallen heroes and visiting memorials.
This Memorial Day weekend, as we spend time with family and friends, let’s take some time to thank and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom.