Mommy Blog Expert: Putting True Meaning Back in to Why the USA Celebrates Memorial Day

Monday, May 30, 2016

Putting True Meaning Back in to Why the USA Celebrates Memorial Day


Holidays




As many readers know I've believed in supporting U.S. Troops practically my entire life -- both those brave American men and women fighting today and the many who've served, endured war-related injuries, or lost their lives in past wars and conflicts to make the ultimate sacrifice for the USA. Memorial Day always to awaken me to a sad reality of changing times, though, and how younger generations see the meaning of the day in an entirely different light.


Ask just about anyone under the age of 40 (except for most military service people and military families) what this Memorial Day evokes and you're likely to hear some variation of one of these responses
  • It's a long holiday weekend off from work and school 
  • It's a non-stop 3-day celebration of some of the best store sales
  • It's the official beginning of BBQ season
  • It's an early kick-off party to summer days ahead 
Patriotic Parade in my Hometown Circa 1961, MommyBlogExpert.com
I feel particularly fortunate to automatically give a completely different answer to this seemingly simple question.  As a Baby Boomer growing up in the 1960s, I vividly remember learning about the history of Memorial Day at school and what it was all about.  I also recall my father -- and practically everyone in our small town -- raising the American flag in front of their houses both on this day as well as on Flag Day (June 14) and Independence Day (July 4th). 

At this time of year I also recollect as a child attending Memorial Day to remember those who had served and sacrificed their lives in past wars, sometimes at a war memorial while other times at a cemetery where I would help put flags next to all the graves. Lastly, I firmly recall going to watch the annual patriotic parade of men from our local VFW chapter marching by.

Back then this day of remembrance was typically marked largely as a somber shout out to our military as well as an uplifting patriotic celebration every May 30th.  In fact, it wasn't until 1971 when this Federal Holiday was officially changed to the last Monday in May to create a three-day long weekend every year.  


New Windsor Cemetery, NY, MommyBlogExpert.com
Interestingly, it's worth pointing out that to this day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) continue to lobby to revert back to the original date.  I tend to agree with these vet groups in that creating three-day weekends out of convenience is likely one of the biggest reasons why the younger generation no longer understands the true meaning of Memorial Day.

History of the Day

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.  It was first observed by Freedmen (freed enslaved Blacks from the South) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865 in memory of fallen Union Civil War soldiers.  The first reference to "Memorial Day" was in 1882 and this gradually came to be the preferred name of the day.  However, the observance did not become widely known until the end of World War II and the U.S. government didn't officially change the name to Memorial Day until 1967, shortly before the peak of American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Hudson River Valley, NY, MommyBlogExpert.com

How You Can Help Bring Back the Day's True Meaning

The best way, in my opinion, to recapture the day's original semblance is to teach our children how important it is to honor the brave men and women who have served our country in the past, as well as those who are actively serving now.  Also, we can't forget American military families as well as living veterans -- instead we need to support them and look to them for inspiration.

A few other ideas to take a more active role:
  • You and your kids can send messages thanking military service people and their families through USO here
  • Families can also find lots of additional ways to get involved at JoiningForces.gov
Please Leave a Comment
What other ways do you know about to help remind us all what Memorial Day in America is really all about?

FTC Disclosure:  MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one. 

24 comments:

Masshole Mommy said...

My husband is a vet, so we take Memorial Day very seriously around here. We always stop to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Melissa Lawler said...

My best friend lost her son who was active duty military. She took part in the honors ceremony that was held at the Black Hills National Cemetary.

Tara Noland said...

That is a great post, it surely is so much more than a day off for a BBQ! Being from Canada it was to read the history of your Memorial Day!

lori felix said...

In my hometown, my father organized the town's Memorial Day parade and ceremony afterwards in which all the names of the servicemen who passed away from our town are read. Even though my father has passed away, the town still carries on the tradition and gives out an award in honor of my father.

Marcie W. said...

As the daughter of a proud US Army Green Beret, I was always taught the true meaning behind Memorial Day. I would like to see less war and more love!

Jeanette said...

This a GREAT post! I think that we should all stop and think a Vet not just Memorial day, but every day! Without them I don't know where we would be.

Shauna Torres said...

I agree, it is super-important to start with teaching our kids that it is more than just a day off school. More than just a day to bbq... This is a great post with so much great info. Thanks for sharing.

Jaredamy said...

My husband grandfather just passed away two weeks ago. He served in WWII at Iwo Jima. He was also a firefighter and served in community for years.

Cathi C said...

I had forgotten that Memorial Day was once Decoration Day. Our small town has a day every year for volunteers to clean the headstones at our local cemetery in preparation of the Memorial Day ceremony.

Olivia Douglass said...

Memorial Day is easily confused with Veteran's Day or other holidays. I am thankful for the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom.

Life With Kathy said...

I love that there is a Memorial Day. It's a great way to honor all those who gave their lives for us. My oldest daughter is in Girl Scouts and got to walk in our Memorial Day parade on Monday. It was such a great parade and service.

Jennifer Johnson said...

I love this post!! It is so easy to forget the real meaning of holidays sometimes with how busy our lives can get.

Lisa Favre said...

I completely agree: it's up to us to teach our children the true meaning behind Memorial Day so that we don't lose sight on what all of the brave men and women did for our country.

Meagan Ivie said...

What a great reminder of the true meaning behind Memorial Day. Love the idea of getting the kids involved and writing letters to those who have served our country.

Mistee Dawn said...

I think a lot of people forget the real reason for Memorial Day. And just see it as a 3 day BBQ weekend. And the kickoff to summer.

Alicia said...

Thanks for sharing this. I love the ideas you gave for families to get involved!

Jenna Wood said...

I know many local restaurants set a 'missing man' table- it really is a striking way to emphasize the day's importance without saying a word.

Autumn @MamaChallenge said...

It is really important to remember the true meaning behind celebrating. I make sure my kids really understand what the day is all about.

Ann B said...

It is so important our children know the real meaning behind Memorial Day. It is so much more than BBQ's and get together's.

Mimi B said...

Thank you for sharing this reminder about Memorial Day. I didn't realize it was celebrated on a different day at one point. My kids grew up playing in band or marching for boy scouts to honor those who were lost for our freedom. I think I'm with you in making it a day of observance more than just a 3 day weekend! Thank you for all the knowledge you shared.

Monica Maloney Heidler said...

I always remember Memorial Day as a time we went to see my Grandmother. In my Dad's hometown they have a parade that ends at the Veteran's Cemetery for a ceremony to honor the troops. The day has never been a "holiday" so to speak. now my grandmother is gone but I'm grateful to know the true meaning of the day.

Cynthia Landrie said...

I remember learning about Memorial Day in school also. To my, it has always been a day to reflect on this who have served. I suppose my Father being Military made this more important to me. I didn't realize there was a way to bring back the original date. i will go and check these links out. Thanks for the great information.

Shelley Zurek -- Still Blonde after all these YEARS said...

It is important to pause on such a day and give thanks to God almighty and the men and women who served. We constantly need to refocus due to the everyday distractions.

Jennifer said...

We have a big service at church on Memoria Day as a way to remember.