How to Observe Memorial Day
by The Boot Campaign on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 7:52pm
For most Americans, the three-day Memorial Day Weekend is a marker of the beginning of summer, a day to enjoy time outside with family, friends and food from the grill. Let's remember how this holiday, the last Monday of May, began and why.
Memorial Day is a day to remember our fallen American soldiers who died defending our country and our freedoms. It began at the close of the Civil War to honor the dead soldiers from both Union and Confederate armies and was originally called "Decoration Day."
By 1865 the practice of decorating soldiers' graves had become widespread in the North. The first known observance was in Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter. In 1882, the name of Decoration Day was formally changed to Memorial Day in memory and honor of those who gave their lives fighting for a common cause - America.
May 30th was the original date chosen because no battles of the civil war were fought on this day. Since 1971, Memorial day has been celebrated on the last Monday of May, creating a three-day weekend which may have contributed to the loss of meaning of this solemn holiday.
This year, do something tangible to pause and remember those who have fallen in battle for our country. Some ideas for how to observe Memorial Day include:
Fly the US Flag at half-staff until noon.
Visit a cemetery, placing flowers or flags on the graves of fallen veterans.
Visit a memorial
Pause at 3:00 pm local time to join in the National Moment of Remembrance.
Watch the National Memorial Day Concert, performed on the West Lawn of the Capitol and broadcast on PBS.