Held every year on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day marks the beginning of Summer for some, and provides a three day weekend to decompress for others. Previously called Decoration day, this beloved holiday was created to honor and remember our country’s fallen soldiers.

The Civil War marked the first time so many American Soldiers had died in battle. This tragedy  lead to the establishing of Arlington National Cemetery. Decoration Day allowed a chance for  5,000 participants gather to decorate the 20,000 union and confederate soldiers graves. It has since become a celebration of all fallen American Soldiers who died while serving in the military. It wasn’t until 1971 that the day became a Federal holiday.

Decoration Day 1912

Today, most Memorial day events include some sort of cookout or backyard BBQ. Past tradition were a bit different. Americans would have a picnic while sitting on the ground of a grave in the cemetery. Another tradition was to wear red poppies; this began with the publishing of “In Flanders Fields” a world War I poem by John McCrae. In 2000 Congress passed the National Moment of remembrance act that requires all Americans to stop what they were doing at 3 p.m. to honor the lost soldiers.

The ultimate sacrifice for our freedom is death. It has been paid countless times by our fallen soldiers, so as you enjoy your three day weekend remember to take a moment and honor the ones lost.

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