Memorial Day: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Celebrate it Again

Memorial Day: 5 Things You Need To Know Before You Celebrate it Again

Did You Know That You Were Probably Breaking a Relatively Unknown Law This Memorial Day?

Memorial Day.  It’s a day most Americans eagerly await.  To most, it means a three-day weekend, getting together with friends and family for picnics, backyard barbecues, pool parties, and trips to the beach.

In fact, Memorial Day weekend is when most public pools officially open, just ask my kids.  For big savings, consumers will wait for Memorial Day when retailers host massive sales on everything from home goods and mattresses, to vehicles and vacation packages.

That all sounds great, right? Of course it does, and there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. However, many Americans have forgotten what Memorial Day is actually about.  It has joined the ranks of Christmas and Easter for commercialization. I have to admit, I’m guilty; I had gotten to where I didn’t really consider what Memorial Day is all about anymore.  So, I decided to do something about that.  I started reading up on the history of Memorial Day, and I came across some interesting factoids that I thought I would share with you.

1. Decoration Day

It was originally called Decoration Day.  During the Civil War, people would gather in the cemeteries of fallen soldiers and decorate their graves with flowers, memorializing the ultimate sacrifice those soldiers made. Several states claimed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Virginia, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.  However, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation in 1966 naming Waterloo, New York as the official birthplace of Memorial Day.  Although the name Memorial Day was first documented in the 1880’s, the name was not officially changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day until 1967.

Memorial Day: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Celebrate it Again

2. May 30th

When Memorial Day became popular in the late 1800’s, it was celebrated across America every year on May 30th.  On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This act moved Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Washington’s Birthday from their original dates to designated Mondays instead.  The law didn’t go into effect until 1971 due to some confusion and protests from several states.

3. The National Moment of Remembrance Act

For Memorial Day, 2000, the State or Local Official’s Guidebook for the National Moment of Remembrance was distributed across America to state and local officials, announcing the following:

WHEN: May 29, 2000, Memorial Day On Memorial Day, May 29, 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” will occur at 3:00 p.m. (local time) At this time, radio and television stations and participating sites across the country will play “Taps”. (3:00 p.m. was chosen because it is a time of day when most Americans are likely making the most of the freedoms we enjoy). WHERE: Major sites include airports, bus stations, train terminals, shopping malls, ball parks, race tracks, national parks, prisons, homeless shelters and hospitals. Amtrak will blow its train whistles as a gesture of remembrance. Drivers in vehicles are asked to turn on their headlights at this time.

In December, 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act.  Under Sec.2.Findings of Public Law 106-579, it states:

(6) in Presidential Proclamation No. 7315 of May 26, 2000 (65 Fed. Reg. 34907), the President proclaimed Memorial Day, May 29, 2000, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as the time to join in prayer and to observe the National Moment of Remembrance; and(7) a National Moment of Remembrance and other commemorative events are needed to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.

I didn’t know this, and I honestly can’t remember ever observing a moment of silence in remembrance of our fallen heroes.  That’s terrible, I know.  Should I be ticketed for not participating because it’s a law?  Boy, I hope not!  But rest assured, now that I am aware of the National Moment of Remembrance Act, I will be observing that moment of silence on Memorial Day from now on. How about you?

Memorial Day: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Celebrate it Again

4. It is uncouth to wish people a happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Celebrate it Again

For the families and friends of the veterans who are no longer with us, this is insensitive and offensive.  In a post on DiversityInc, Chris Wilson explained the meaning of the holiday perfectly,

“Memorial Day is essentially the one day that we should remember all veterans that are no longer with us, whether that is from combat, everyday accidents or just the natural course of life with people dying of old age,” said Chris Wilson, VP of major accounts at DiversityInc. “You ‘memorialize’ those that decided to sign a contract to be a part of something that would help the American people by joining the American military.”

Please don’t confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day.  On Veteran’s Day you should thank a veteran for their service because on that day we honor all of our military veterans.  On Memorial Day, we remember and honor all of our fallen soldiers.

5. So, what should you say to a Veteran, or the family and friends of one who is no longer with us?

Quite simply, you should just let them know that you will be remembering the soldiers who are no longer with us and the sacrifice they made for our freedom.  In addition to remembering, there are many things you can do to honor our fallen soldiers, their families. and friends, if you are interested.  I found a really great post on for 10 Ways to Honor The Fallen This Memorial Day.

What have you done in the past that honored our fallen heroes?  I would love to hear about how your Memorial Day went this year.

Life this post? Check out my other post how to Organize and Consolidate All of Your Recipes into One Source.

Remember and Honor,

Melissa (proud-to-be-an-American) Shantel

Melissa Shantel


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