Memorial Day is a United States Holiday to celebrate those who have laid down their lives for freedom. For nearly 150 years, Americans have gathered in late spring to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in service to their country. What began with dozens of informal commemorations of those killed in the Civil War has grown to become one of the nation’s most solemn and hallowed holidays. If we look outside of Americans, wars are fought all over the world for things people believe in and to protect freedoms of those less fortunate.
Though the Holiday has changed names and purposes over the years in the US, it is important to remember the reason why we remember this sacred day. To this day, more than 1.8 million have laid down their lives in the United States of America since 1775. Though the BBQs are nice and the start of Summer with the pools officially opening are all important times as well, they pale in comparison to those who sacrificed their life for you to enjoy those pleasures.
We would like to take a few moments to outline some facts about how Memorial Day is honored. In traditional observance, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
An interesting fact we found in researching Memorial Day is that since the late 1950s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in December 2000. It asks that at 3 p.m. local time all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.” Though you probably did not know these facts in 2017, let’s use this knowledge in 2018 to give honor to those who gave their life for our freedom.