Beyond the Picnics of Memorial Day
The majority of Americans have the day off on Memorial Day. Most spend the time with their families and many traditionally go on a picnic in the afternoon. But the true meaning of Memorial Day goes far beyond a picnic and a day off. Memorial Day was established to honor the dead – those who died
in service of defending our country. Observance of those who had fallen first began three years after the Civil War; originally, it was referred to as Decoration Day. It was expanded to honor everyone in our armed forces who had fallen in all American wars. In 1971 Congress declared it a national holiday to be observed the last Monday each May.
There are parades in many cities, towns, and boroughs that honor the veterans who died in past and current wars to keep our country free. Many of us go to the cemetery to plant flowers and place flags, to “decorate” the graves (hence the name) of those we love to commemorate their actions to preserve our country’s freedom. Others at home will run a flag at half staff until noon when it will be raised to the top until sunset. Each year there is a national ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia where a wreath is placed upon it to commemorate the day.
In 2000 Congress passed The National Moment of Remembrance Act so all American citizens would pause for a moment of silence to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. This Memorial Day at 3 PM most in our Country will stop grilling and other leisure pastime activities to remember those who gave the ultimate gift of their lives in service to America and its freedom.
Pause and give thanks. It’s the least we can do.
Patrick J. Wood
Author of “Dear Reader” and “Tapestry of Love and Loss”