Memorial Day is a day that we set aside every year to commemorate the lives of those who sacrificed everything to protect and serve the United States of America. Behind all the BBQs and family picnics is a holiday with a storied history and deep meaning to those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty
Here are 5 facts about Memorial Day.
1. Memorial Day Has Only Been an Official Holiday Since 1971
Since 1890, every state has observed a day of remembrance for fallen soldiers, but it wasn’t given the official name of “Memorial Day” until 1971.
Up until that point, the holiday was referred to as “Decoration Day,” recognizing all those decorated soldiers who had given their lives in combat.
2. Days of Remembrance Have Been Observed Since at Least 431 B.C.
In almost all cultures and nations, soldiers are well respected, and their sacrifices are seen as the ultimate gift they can give to their country.
For that reason, even ancient civilizations like Rome and Greece held public festivals and days of remembrance for those who protected their countries and their way of life.
3. There are Official Laws That Tell You What to Do on Memorial Day
In the year 2000, Congress passed a law that encouraged Memorial Day observers to have a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time. Since there are officially seven different time zones in the United States being used on Memorial Day, there are seven separate moments of silence.
Additionally, all flags should be hung at half-staff until midday. Once the clock strikes twelve, the flags should be raised the entire way.
4. A Day of Remembrance Has Been Held Yearly at Arlington National Cemetery Since 1868
Every Memorial Day, the current president honors our fallen with a speech and sets a wreath in front of the Tomb of the Unknown soldier.
On the Thursday preceding Memorial Day, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, who are also known as members of the Old Guard, decorate Arlington National Cemetery by placing small American flags at the gravesites of all the fallen soldiers.
5. Memorial Day Used to be Observed Annually on May 30
General John A. Logan, a distinguished Civil War veteran and commander in chief of the Union veterans’ group called the Grand Army of the Republic, established May 30 as a day to remember those who had died in the Civil War. Since then, the holiday has evolved to include all soldiers who have died in combat.
In 1971, however, the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May, which was met with a lot of controversy because some people thought the change would turn the day of remembrance into a three-day weekend of BBQs and cookouts.
We are so grateful for all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they love, and we couldn’t be any prouder to call ourselves Americans!