How do you observe Memorial Day? Would you like to bring more substance to your celebration? There are many beautiful ways to observe, honor, and decorate those who sacrificed for our freedoms.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day is the evolution of a post-Civil War effort to decorate the graves of soldiers killed in the war. Approximately 100 years later, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson held a national event, calling May 30 “Memorial Day.” It was declared a national holiday in 1971. Presently, Americans observe Memorial Day on the last Monday of May each year.
Memorial Day was informally called “Decoration Day” until an act of Congress made it a Federal Holiday. Some communities host Memorial Day parades. If you attend a parade this year, dress for the occasion in red, white, and blue and share the knowledge of what you’re celebrating. Proper etiquette dictates that you can wave an American flag at these events but not wear one. Also, consider visiting and decorating the graves of soldiers who died while serving in a war. The United States National Park Service maintains a database of soldiers killed during the Civil War and where to find their graves. Your county or municipal archives department is also a great place to research fallen soldiers of other wars and may have information on where to find their headstones.
Members of our military live a life of service. Pay it forward by contributing to your community on or around Memorial Day. Volunteer organizations put out calls for help all the time. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities like Habitat for Humanity builds, Neighborhood beautification projects, food kitchens in need of support, or neighbors in need of yard work.
In the era of social distancing, many Americans will observe Memorial Day from home. Spend some time with your family researching the U. S. Military and the work they do for our country. A great place to start is https://www.defense.gov/KnowYourMilitary/.
Visit Washington, D.C. this year! From touring the Pentagon to boating the Potomac, D.C. is filled with opportunities to appreciate those who have sacrificed for our country. Of course, a visit to Arlington National Cemetery is in order. Those with an interest in history can spend the whole day at Arlington, which is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you visit on Memorial Day, plan to attend the remembrance ceremony – The President often speaks at this event! Formal wreath ceremonies and other events occur throughout the year to honor the fallen.
We can thank the service members, veterans, fallen soldiers, and military families of the United States for the daily freedoms that we often take for granted. Many people celebrate Memorial Day with a backyard barbeque, the quintessential celebration of American culture. If you find yourself gathering over a meal with family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, remember to acknowledge and offer respect to those who lost their lives while fighting a war. Memorial Day is an opportunity to reinforce that the fallen will never be forgotten.
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