To many, Memorial Day evokes thoughts of barbeques and get-togethers, a day off from work to relax. But it is important to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day and recognize its true meaning. The last Monday in May is to honor the men and women who died while actively serving in the United States military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Memorial Day was first widely observed in May 1868. The celebration commemorated the sacrifices of the Civil War and the proclamation was made by General John A. Logan. Following the proclamation, participants decorated graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. Thus, began the practice of honoring those fallen soldiers and reflecting on their sacrifice for their country.
Let’s take a moment and reflect on the words of President Ronal Reagan when he gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986:
“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.
“I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.”
Memorial Day also unofficially marks the beginning of summer. For those lucky enough, it means a vacation to the beach. May is a great time to visit the Grand Strand because of the warm temperatures so it’s perfect to dig your toes in the sand and take a dip in the ocean. The average water temperature is 71 degrees making it warm enough for swimming and various watersports. Take advantage of the less crowded beaches, pull up a chair and soak up the sun as you listen to the serene sound of the waves crashing upon the shore.
So, whether you’re spending time with family, going on a vacation, or simply stopping to pause to honor the fallen heroes, may you have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend!
Does Memorial Day have meaning to you? Many communities around the United States have Memorial Day events at cemeteries where veterans and spiritual leaders speak. Other cities and towns host parades to honor the military. However, in many cities around the country, these events have been forgotten.
It is important for Americans to take time to remember the sacrifices that bought their freedom. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate this important American holiday:
- Send a note of thanks to Veterans you know.
- If you know someone who has lost a loved one in battle, offer to help with a household project or help meet a special need they have.
- Visit a local cemetery and place flags or flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.
- Fly the American flag at half-staff until noon.
- Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. Pause and think upon the meaning of Memorial Day.
- Pray for protection over all branches of our military and to bless America.
Attached-Original Photos by: Lisa Valone