From the standpoint of someone from Texas, Memorial Day means a three-day weekend, spending time near a body of water, outdoor barbeques, and the unofficial start to summer. This unofficial definition is probably true for most Americans but what should not be forgotten is the real meaning behind this significant day.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day honors those who have died in service to our country. It was first intended as a way to remember the sacrifices from the Civil War but evolved to include all of those who have lost their lives while serving their country after World War I. Officially declared a federal holiday in 1971, Memorial Day is not just about decorating the graves of fallen soldiers but to recognize and honor the legacies of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
While it is just as important to enjoy spending the time with your family or loved ones, here are a few ways you can honor the true meaning behind Memorial Day:
Decorate with Flags
Break out the red, white and blue! Memorial Day began with the tradition of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers to bring that tradition to your home. Decorate your house and lawn with the stars and stripes. Flags flown in remembrance should be at half-staff from sunrise until noon, then raised to full height.
Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day for one minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the US.
Participate in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Buddy Poppy program
Each year for almost 100 years, disabled, hospitalized, and aging veterans make red paper flowers known as a Buddy Poppy. The VFW Buddy Poppy program supports the veterans who assemble the poppies, and provides assistance maintaining veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs. During the days leading up to Memorial Day, Buddy Poppies are distributed by the VFW and given freely nationwide. By wearing a Buddy Poppy, you can visibly show your support and honor the legacy of those fallen.
Attend a Parade or Community Event
Many cities and towns have a Memorial Day parade or celebration, so be sure to check the local news or community organizations. You can also watch the National Memorial Day Parade, which begins at 2:00 pm EST in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day.
Create a Sidewalk Mural
Kids of all ages, or even adults, can get into the spirit of celebrating Memorial Day. Grab some sidewalk chalk and create a giant mural of the American flag.
No matter how you choose to spend your Memorial Day, it is always important to stay safe and enjoy every moment.