This Monday, May 25, we in the United States will observe a national holiday called Memorial Day. This “holiday” is different from other national holidays because we don’t really celebrate the holiday but observe it instead.
Why, you might ask?
Think about this: It’s difficult to celebrate the passing of so many of our nation’s heroes. Yet, that’s the purpose of Memorial Day—to remember and honor the sacrifices made by so many men and women while serving as members of our Armed Forces.
It’s been almost 150 years since the first Memorial Day, which was referred to then as Decoration Day. Memorial Day provides us with an opportunity to adopt graves of heroes, fallen but not forgotten, to conduct memorial services honoring their sacrifices, but most of all to remember their sacrifice and the purpose for that sacrifice.
Over the last few decades, Memorial Day has evolved into the kick-off of the summer season. That’s OK, so long as we recognize and honor the purpose of Memorial Day. Yes, you can do both; and indeed we encourage you to do both. After all, those who sacrificed did so in order to preserve your freedom to do what you want on your holidays.
We’d like to offer the following ways for you to remember the fallen and observe Memorial Day, not just this year but every year.
Fly the American flag. The best ways to observe Memorial Day is to raise your flag to full staff at sunrise and then reverently lower that flag to half-staff. Keep it there until noon, then raise the flag once again to full-staff. This tradition signifies the mourning of those who fell and the triumph they earned for our nation with their sacrifice.
Many of us have picnics on Memorial Day. If you’re one of those who do, please set a reminder on your smartphone, computer, or other electronic device for 3 pm local time. That’s the official time of the National Moment of Silence. We should pause and observe that moment of silence for those who sacrificed for our country. Not too much to ask, is it? The National Moment of Silence is required by a 2000 law, but far too many of us are unaware of this opportunity to remember those who protect our freedom.
Of course, there is always the opportunity to visit the graves of the fallen and to help decorate those graves with an American flag or perhaps some flowers. There are national cemeteries throughout the United States; but if there isn’t one in your area, we encourage you to check with local veterans and civic organizations in your area in order to learn what ceremonies and events are planned and how you can help put the “memorial” back into Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is indeed a different kind of holiday, which makes it all the more imperative that we remember the sacrifices of so many men and women who served our country and its citizens. As some older folks have told us: “we must remember too so we do not forget.”