Sunday, May 30, 2010


For many Americans, Memorial Day signifies a guaranteed three-day weekend, one when corporate buildings, the post office, and government offices are closed. But Memorial Day is much more than that; it’s a time for Americans to collectively reflect on the impact of the lives lost in U.S. wars and to celebrate all war veterans, a national day of mourning.

Many cities, towns, and states hold traditional celebrations over the three-day holiday weekend. Holiday activities include parades and visits to national cemeteries where United States war veterans are buried. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, “on Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.”

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), Memorial Day historically signified the day that U.S. individuals recognized those who fought, and more importantly, those who died in the Civil War. Although it began as a tribute only to those who fought in the Civil War, it is now considered a day of observance to recognize soldiers who have fought in all U.S. wars.

The actual date of remembrance has varied over time; the VA has record of past days of observance on April 25th, May 5th, and May 30th. Since the 1970s, Memorial Day has been observed on the last day in May. Furthermore, since the year 2000, U.S. citizens have been asked to pause for one minute of silence at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, to commemorate all who died as they served the United States; this minute of silence is called the National Moment of Remembrance.

Look for the history of Memorial Day tomorrow.

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