We often forget why Memorial Day is so important. Sure, there are parties to attend and cookouts to be had. The real reason for the day gets left behind so often that we can sometimes find ourselves asking “what exactly is Memorial Day?” In the modern era, Memorial Day is celebrated as the unofficial first day of Summer with Labor Day marking the unofficial end of Summer. The beginning of Memorial Day, however, has a less jovial sentiment surrounding it.
Memorial Day used to be known as “Decoration Day” where the nation would decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers with flowers. This was done to remember those who gave their lives to defend their country. Decoration Day was inspired by the 500,000 deaths of soldiers in the Civil War. Traditionally, from 1868 to 1970, this day was observed on May 30th. It was then decided that Memorial Day would be observed on the fourth Monday of May.
In 2000, a National Moment of Remembrance act was passed pointing to ask Americans to take a moment in remembrance for those who died for their freedom. This is generally to occur at 3:00 PM local time on Memorial Day each year. Additionally, flags are quickly raised to full staff in the morning and slowly lowered to half-staff until noon. This is done as a sign of respect for fallen soldiers both past and present.
It’s essential that we observe Memorial Day because each year, thousands of American enlist in the military to serve and protect our freedoms. They are willing to risk their lives in order to ensure our continued access to these freedoms. Since the Civil War, nearly 700,000 American soldiers have lost their lives defending our nations and protecting our freedoms.
With Memorial Day approaching, make sure that you enjoy your holiday but do so in remembrance and with respect for those that we have lost. It’s because of those fallen soldiers that we owe our freedom to in order to have barbeques and parties. Take a moment on Memorial Day and remember those who have given their lives and respect those that are currently serving.