Why We Celebrate Memorial Day

American three-day weekend holidays can become a blur of celebrating this and that — but why do we really celebrate Memorial Day? When did it start and why is it always the last Monday in May? We’ve gathered up everything you need to truly celebrate properly, alongside the barbecues and beach days.

You are required by law to pause every Memorial Day at exactly 3 p.m. to observe a National Moment of Remembrance. The law was passed in 2000, and though well-intentioned, one has to wonder what the consequences of breaking this law actually are.

Memorial Day originally honored those fallen in the US Civil War. Though known as “Decoration Day” (so-called for the wreaths, flags, and flowers placed on the graves of the fallen), the name Memorial Day wasn’t established until 1967, at which point the holiday had expanded to encompass recognition of all fallen soldiers. Some states in the South still hold their own “Gray Memorial Day”, honoring fallen Confederate soldiers.

The holiday is not actually a federal holiday. Though celebrated throughout the country, the states, and not federal government, have decided whether or not we get the three-day weekend. Originally it was only official in the District of Columbia and for federal employees.

The story of the “impropriety of uttering words”. It has remained a national joke for centuries now, James A. Garfield’s lack of irony in beginning his one hour and a half long speech with the words: “If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung.”

Take to the road. Up to 300,000 motorcycles ride together in honor of the tradition of the Rolling Thunder Rally, which originally intended to call attention to the soldiers still missing in action or prisoners of war.

Traditions of Memorial Day. Poppies are a traditional mode of honoring fallen soldiers. Funds made from poppy sales support the Veterans of Foreign Wars annually. Flags are usually flown at half mast until noon on Memorial Day, and raised to the top until sunset.

Barbecuing this weekend? Read our barbecue safety tips here, and celebrate safely! To all who have served and continue to serve and protect us, BMR Insurance thanks you. Call BMR Insurance today for a free quote at 714-838-1911.


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