Recognizing the Roots of Memorial Day
For most, Memorial Day signals the start of summer where burgers and cakes iced with American flags are the order of the day.
But Memorial Day began as a way to honor scores of dead from the Civil War called “Decoration Day.”
In 1971, the name changed but the day remained a time to visit and spruce up final resting places of all who lost their lives in service to this country. Read how Decoration Day became Memorial Day here
Such tradition might seem macabre or morbid.
At the same time, the Memorial Day tradition serves as a gentle means of passing history from generation to generation.
Here are three ways to recognize the roots of Memorial Day along with all the burgers and fun.
Pause for A Moment of Silence
In 2000 the House and Senate passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act to “remember and renew the legacy of Memorial Day, which was established in 1868 to pay tribute to individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States and their families.”
According to that law at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, we should stop eating, chatting, and swimming, for one full minute to remember those who didn’t make it home to celebrate.
Display the American Flag Properly
Memorial Day has specific rules for where and when the American flag is raised and lowered. It’s the only day that observes both positions on the flagpole.
The Stars and Stripes should be raised briskly first thing in the morning and then lowered to half-staff.
At noon, the flag should be returned to full staff until it’s taken down at sunset.
Don’t have a flagpole? If you fly a flag from your porch and can’t lower it, simply attach a black mourning streamer to the top for when it’s supposed to be lowered.
Remember It’s Not Veterans Day
A lot of people will confuse the days of military recognition.
Most veterans don’t expect to be thanked for their service. This is especially true on Memorial Day.
While vets will accept the extra attention on Veterans Day, such thanks are not appropriate on Memorial Day. To them, it’s a somber day of remembering those who didn’t come home with them.
If we recognize the roots of Memorial Day, we can keep the day from being just another holiday with an extra day off.