Memorial Day began three years after the Civil War on May 30, 1868. It was originally established as Decoration Day and it was a time for people to come together and decorate the graves of the soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day celebrations were being held throughout the nation, still on May 30. After World War I, however, Memorial Day was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars, not just the Civil War. In 1971, Memorial Day was given it's official name and declared a national holiday by Congress. It was also changed to be celebrated on the last Monday of May, rather than each year on May 30.
In recent years, however, it seems Memorial Day has become just a day off work, or another reason to party. While there is nothing wrong with getting together and grilling with family and friends, I think it's about time we make the most of the opportunity we have been given to honor and remember the soldiers who fought, are fighting, or were never able to return home to their families.
The first thing you can do to make the most of Memorial Day is decorating with flags. Have miniature flags on your dinner table while you're grilling, or in your lawn while the kids are running and playing. If you have a flag pole, remember that flags can be flown at half-mast from dawn until noon, local time. Flags are a great reminder of our freedoms and those who have fought for them.
You and your family can also participate in the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. This moment of silence and remembrance was established by Congress in an attempt to create reverence and unity on this noble holiday. The National Moment of Remembrance is observed at 3pm local time and lasts for one minute. The time 3pm was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms. So, this Memorial Day try taking one minute out of the day to remember why we celebrate this holiday.
Lastly, this Memorial Day you can thank a veteran. Since this holiday is a time for remembering and honoring our fallen soldiers, it is also a perfect time to thank soldiers, past and present who are here with us today. If you don't personally know a veteran, you can write a letter to a veteran or soldier. You can visit Operation Gratitude for more information about writing letters to currently deployed soldiers.
After putting up your flags, participating in the National Moment of Remembrance, and thinking a veteran/writing letters, it's time to spend time with loved ones and enjoy some great food. If you're looking for a great way to spice up the old burger routine, try this recipe for delicious Barbecued Burgers and leave us a comment here or on Facebook to let us know your special Memorial Day traditions!