4 Things You Should Know About Memorial Day
Each year in late May, we look forward to Memorial Day. To many Americans, it means a long weekend, celebrating the unofficial start of summer with pool parties, barbecues and race day at the Indy 500. But for others, it’s a day of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation in wars both here and abroad.
As we approach Memorial Day, here are four facts you should know.
- Memorial Day began as Decoration Day. Established a few years after the end of the Civil War, Decoration Day was a time for families to decorate the graves of their loved ones who died in the war. It is believed May 30 was chosen for this important occasion because flowers would be in full bloom all over the country. The first Decoration Day was officially observed on May 30, 1868, at Arlington Cemetery.
- Decoration Day only recognized fallen soldiers from the Civil War until after World War I. This is when the tradition evolved to include the remembrance of all soldiers who gave their lives in domestic and foreign wars.
- Memorial Day as we know it was not established until 1968. In the 1960s, people began referring to this day of remembrance as Memorial Day, and the term Decoration Day faded away. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which passed in 1968 and took effect January 1, 1971, established a number of federal holidays as three-day weekends, including Memorial Day. Today, it is observed on the last Monday in May, which means the date changes each year.
- Flag etiquette observed on Memorial Day. For anyone who flies a flag, 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.
This year, Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 29. As in years past, at USBA we continue our tradition of commemorating Memorial Day by sharing an e-card as a tribute to those who have died in their service to our grateful nation.
USBA is a not-for-profit Association that provides group life insurance, health insurance supplements, and other products and services to military personnel, Federal employees, National Guard and Reserve members, Veterans and their families.
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