Memorial Day is traditionally the holiday that kicks off summertime. Part of that first glorious long weekend of the summer, Memorial Day is traditionally a family holiday celebrated with picnics, barbecues and other typical warm weather fare. Memorial Day is a holiday that should be honored with a certain degree of solemnity too, however, because the three-day weekend aside, this special day was designated to honor our soldiers who gave their lives fighting in wars in order to preserve our freedoms and way of life. Here are some other interesting facts about Memorial Day that you might not know!
- Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
- A leader in the Veteran’s Association named John A. Logan instituted the first Decoration Day, which was held on May 30, 1868.
- Decoration Day was initially a day designated to honor the Union soldiers who had lost their lives while fighting in the Civil War. More lives were lost in the Civil War than any other war in history. The southern states however, did not acknowledge Decoration Day until after WWI, when it became a day of recognition to remember all soldiers, in all wars.
- Some southern states still have special observances in order to honor the Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. These states include Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
- Decoration Day eventually became Memorial Day. Memorial Day extended the recognition of deceased soldiers to include any military personnel who had lost their lives during any war ever fought.
- The National Moment of Remembrance is a designated moment of silence on Memorial Day. Americans are asked to stop and pause whatever they are doing at 3 pm local time and take a moment to reflect and remember the war veterans who lost their lives in service of their country. In order to ensure that these fallen soldiers are never forgotten, a law was passed in the year 2000, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act.” This act encourages citizens to give something back to their country by honoring these soldiers during a moment of silent reflection.
- Memorial Day became an official Federal holiday in 1971.
- The red poppy is the official symbol of Memorial Day and you may see many sporting this poppy on their lapel as an act of remembrance.
Whatever you are doing this Memorial Day, please take a moment to show gratitude to our country’s fallen soldiers. These brave men and women gave up their tomorrow’s so we could have our today.