Why Do We Honor Memorial Day?

 

Memorial Day has a special significance to for our country. A three-day weekend, a nice vacation trip, a barbecue with friends and family, sales at almost every store and car lot. We all know there is more meaning to Memorial Day, but it can get buried in all of the fun activities. We often need a reminder of what Memorial Day truly means. 

Memorial Day and Veterans' Day are sometimes confused. They're often treated similarly, as just days to remember soldiers. The difference is Veterans' Day honors all who have served in the military through times of war and times of peace. Generally, we take the day to thank retired and active military who are still living. On the other hand, Memorial Day is for remembering the people who died fighting for our country. It's for the ones who didn't come home to their families in the end.

Memorial Day came about after the Civil War to honor the many lives lost in the gruesome war. The first date and location of Memorial Day are often argued. Originally it was called Decoration Day. People would take the day to decorate soldiers' graves with flowers. While both the North and the South took days to remember the fallen, the South didn't use the same Memorial Day, May 30th, as the North did. 

After World War I, Memorial Day changed from remembering only Civil War soldiers to remembering all the soldiers who lost their lives for the USA. Most of the states came together to recognize the holiday. It was declared an official holiday in 1968 when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Law. Under that law, the date was set for the last Monday of May, producing the three-day weekend we enjoy now.

Memorial Day has changed a lot over the years. It means far more than what a lot of Americans make of it. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the extended weekend, barbecuing, or buying things on sale, it's important to remember why we get this day to do those things. We can't let the meaning of this holiday be forgotten or grazed over. 

For the families of those who lost a loved one in the military, Memorial Day is a day for mourning and remembering. It's a day of honoring their sacrifice. The memorial of those lost isn't just for the family of the fallen military, though. It is for all US citizens, who those soldiers laid down their lives for. Memorial Day is for us to come around those who have lost loved ones in war, and support them as we remember and honor the fallen together. 

It's easy to get caught up in the fun of Memorial Day, but as you go about your activities, please remember the fallen. Thousands of men and women laid down their lives for our country. This sober holiday is meant to keep them from being forgotten. Don't let the true meaning of Memorial Day fade.