You’re so focused on unplugging and decompressing over the next few days that an appointment may have slipped your mind.
3pm on Memorial Day, remember?
Sure, Memorial Day weekend is when America pretends that summer has started. And if you’re like 80% of us, that’s where the meaning of the three-day holiday begins and ends.
Which is why, in 2000, Congress passed The National Moment of Remembrance Act, as an added way of honoring America’s fallen heroes. For one minute on Memorial Day, we’re all stopping everything to pay our respects to the men and women who died in service of our country, especially those who died in battle. The time of 3pm was chosen because it’s likely when Americans are most enjoying the freedom made possible by those who died in service of their country.
Memorial Day was originally established as Decoration Day in 1868, as a way to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. Never before had so many American soldiers died in battle, and as a result national cemeteries began to be formed. On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to decorate the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Southern states refused to acknowledge the day, choosing to honor their dead on separate days until after World War 1, whenMemorial Day changed from honoring those who died during the Civil War to those fallen in any war.
But as the true meaning of Memorial Day has become obscured over time, shrouded in the haze of BBQ smoke, some were moved to institute a moment of silence. Allegedly, the idea for the moment came when children touring Washington D.C. were asked about the meaning of Memorial Day and responded, “That’s the day the pool opens.”
So the National Moment of Remembrance Act calls us to stop and remember. As noted by the Uniformed Services Benefit Association, here’s what will happen at 3pm on Monday in observance of the National Moment of Remembrance: Trains will blow their whistles. Almost 500,000 Major League Baseball fans will pause for a moment of silence. Cars will drive with their headlights on. Americans everywhere will wave flags. “Taps” will play throughout the nation.
Beyond that one moment at 3pm, how can we honor the true significance of Memorial Day? The Memorial Day Foundation, an organization formed to increase awareness and respect for Memorial Day, recommends a few gestures of respect:
- Wear a Memorial Day Button from the first of May until Memorial Day.
- Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
- Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon. Memorial Day is a day of “National Mourning.”
- Attend religious services of your choice.
- Visit memorials.
- Renew a pledge to aid the widows, and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.
It’s also important that we impart the true meaning of this holiday to our children, so that they grow up understanding that Memorial Day is not about our own pleasure but about honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Ryan Scott, Forbes Contributor
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