Memorial Traditions. Its not just a day off from work!
For my family Memorial Day has always been a special holiday. It might have a little bit to do with the fact that my grandmothers birthday is usually the same weekend. Military service runs deep in my family and is something we love to celebrate and honor. So this weeks post will focus on a few ways you can celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. for remembering the the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces, it is observed every year on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day it originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. The first Decoration Day was held in Waterloo, New York in May 1866, the citizens of the town decided to close all the shops so that all the families could take the day to decorate the graves of their lost loved ones.
After World War I it became a day to recognize all the men and women who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country all the way back to the Revolution. It is about far more than a three day weekend, camping trips, getting out on the boat, or the start of summer.
A few way to honor the true spirit of Memorial Day.
- Visit and decorate the grave of a Veteran in your family. If that isn’t possible you can volunteer to help place flags at the graves of our national veterans, at your local cemetery, with Veterans Groups and the Boy Scouts of America.
- Wearing Poppies : In 1918, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, YWCA worker Moina Michael attended a YWCA Overseas War Secretaries’ conference wearing a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed over two dozen more to others present. In 1920, the National American Legion adopted it as their official symbol of remembrance. To find out where to get your poppies contact your local VFW.
- by John McCraeIn Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.
- If you display The Stars and Stripes on a flag pole make sure to do so correctly. On Memorial Day, the flag should be raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
- Go to a Memorial Day Parade or Ceremony. Parades are my favorite! Memorial Day Parades are even better. They are an amazing opportunity to honor those who have given all. Some would say that there are rules to attending a parade, I would say they are less rules and more a way to publicly display your patriotism. If the national anthem is played it is appropriate to stand, men should ALWAYS remove their hats (that is a rule!). It is also appropriate to stand when the flag is carried past by an honor guard.
- Watch a sporting event. One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, an auto race which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.
- In 2000 Congress enacted a national moment of silence at 3:00 pm to honor the fallen men of women of US military. Recently added was a moment to “Prayer for Peace” at 11:00 am.
Don’t get me wrong. I love having a three day weekend to start off the summer with camping, the lake and fun. But let’s not forget that hundreds of thousands of men and women died so that we could have the freedom to enjoy those things. I challenge y’all to add one of these traditions into your memorial day weekend as a way to honor who gave all so that we could have it all.