Memorial Day is a holiday that has evolved dramatically over the years. Memorial Day observances began after the Civil War to honor the Union soldiers who gave their lives in the conflict. They were expanded after World War I to become a tribute to the dead of all the nation’s wars.
When Memorial Day began, the war dead were placed front and center. The holiday’s original name, Decoration Day, came from the day’s main activity: leaving flowers at cemeteries.
Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formally known as Decoration Day and honor all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season. It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half mast from dawn until noon. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. Memorial Day is combined with Jefferson Davis’ Birthday in Mississippi.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday. All non-essential Government offices are closed, as are schools, businesses and other organizations. Most public transit systems do not run on their regular schedule. Many people see Memorial Day weekend as an opportunity to go on a short vacation or visit family or friends. While Memorial Day is a holiday for all Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who gave their all to guarantee our freedom. It is important that we honor our fallen military members. They made the ultimate sacrifice when our government asked them to. These brave men and women willingly went into situations they knew could end their lives. While all veterans have done this in times of conflict, the ones we remember on this day did not return home to their families.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, but remember why Memorial Day is a holiday. Take a minute and teach the next generation about the proud service and the ultimate sacrifice of those who came before them.