Sure, Memorial Day is a cause for a day off of work. But how often do you stop to reflect on why that is the case? Memorial Day was established as a day to honor the memory of all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for our country’s freedoms. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated after the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Honored on the last Monday in May each year, Memorial Day has also come to be known as the unofficial kick-off to summer. Aside from barbecues and lake trips, however, here are a couple of other ways to observe Memorial Day.
- Attend a ceremony or Memorial Day event. Your local municipality may be hosting one, as well as veterans’ organizations like the VFW or American Legion.
- Stop by a public monument or memorial in your city. Chances are there is a public monument in your area dedicated to those who have served or who currently serve in the U.S. military. Take a minute to visit and read any posted literature describing the landmark.
- Visit a cemetery and place flags over the graves of fallen heroes. A tradition for Boy Scouts, placing flags on veterans’ graves is a sign of respect. Before you do so, however, check with the cemetery director, and know the proper placement. Flags placed at graves should be erected in a uniform manner, typically one foot away and centered in front of the head stone or grave marker.
- Participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance.” Established by Congress, this act asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for one minute.
- Decorate with flags. Wave our country’s red, white and blue with pride. Place flags on your mailbox, on your house or in your yard.
- Fly the U.S. flag at half-mast. Memorial Day is also a day of “National Mourning.” If you have a flagpole at your home or business, join others across the country in lowering the flag to half-mast from dawn to noon local time as a sign of respect.
- Whether you are helping out a friend in need or devoting your time to a community cause, volunteering is an extension of the spirit of Memorial Day and a way to pay it forward.
Consider one of these ways to observe Memorial Day this holiday as we pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives so that we could live ours.
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