Memorial Day is much more than just a three-day weekend and a chance to get the year’s first sunburn. Observed on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a major remembrance day that deserves our attention. It is a day where we come together to remember the sacrifice of many for the freedom many of us enjoy today.

In observance of Memorial Day here are a couple things to remember:

1.Memorial Day started with the Civil War. 

Memorial day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. There were more deaths in the Civil War than WWI and WWII combined. The loss of loved ones led to a spontaneous commemorations of the dead.

2. Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day.

Originally commemorating the Union and Confederate soldiers fallen in the American Civil War, Memorial Day was formerly known as the Decoration Day due to the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. The true origins of who held the first Memorial Day celebration is a debated subject as there were several claims made in different places such as Warrenton (Virginia), Savannah (Georgia) and Gettysburg (Pennsylvania).

Originally, Memorial Day was observed on May 30 and it was not until 1971 when the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May to ensure the prolonged weekend. In the same year, 1971, Memorial Day also became a federal holiday.

3. It is legally required to observe a national moment of remembrance on Memorial Day.

In December 2000, Congress passed a law requiring Americans to pause at 3 P.M. to remember and honor the fallen.

4. Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veteran’s Day.

Veteran’s Day honors all United States military veterans, while Memorial Day honors the soldiers who died while serving.

5. Red Poppies are worn as tradition on Memorial Day.

This tradition originated from John McCrae’s 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields.”

6. Memorial Day has its customs.

It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. It also unofficially marks the beginning of Summer.

7. According to AAA Estimates…

On each Memorial Day, almost 40 million Americans travel more than 50 miles from their homes for the weekend, making the traffic on this holiday extremely heavy.

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