May 25, 2020
This year, observing Memorial Day with our usual traditions of family cookouts, patriotic parades and ceremonies, or baseball games may look a little different. Perhaps, though, the solitude we have experienced in recent months allows us to have a new appreciation for the simple blessings and remembrances we may have taken for granted in the past. As we count our blessings, we can reflect on the true importance of this holiday.
Memorial Day is a time to pause and remember the fallen soldiers throughout the generations who have served our nation in defense of our freedom and way of life. While Veterans Day celebrates the service of ALL military personnel and Armed Forces Day recognizes the importance of our military branches, Memorial Day is a special observance for men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives as they served our country.
First observed in 1868 following the Civil War’s tragic death toll, Memorial Day was established by a decree signed by Commander in Chief John A. Logan, who stated, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”1 Logan saw the observance as one way to begin healing from the country’s deep divisions and the many lives lost in the brutal war.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. In December 2000, Congress passed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” which encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation.
As we respectfully honor our fallen soldiers, we also feel tremendous gratitude and reverence for them and want to remember the cause these brave men and women sacrificed their lives for: our freedom.
Although this Memorial Day may not include your typical plans, the Memorial Day Foundation2 offers some ideas on how to make the day a special remembrance.
- Fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon. Memorial Day is considered by the Foundation to be a day of “National Mourning.”
- Attend online religious services of your choice.
- Participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3:00 p.m. local time, to pause and think upon the meaning of the day and for “Taps” to be played where possible.
- Renew a pledge to aid the widows and orphans of our fallen soldiers and to aid disabled veterans.
How we spend our Memorial Day this year may look different than previous years, but our gratitude and the reason for commemorating this day remain the same. As we count our many blessings, let us not forget to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to our country.