President's Perspective – Honoring Those Who Have Died while Serving Our Country
(May 26, 2023) – As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, which for many is the unofficial start to summer, it is important to remember what this day is all about.
The purpose of Memorial Day is to remember and honor those who have died in our nation's service. In fact, the holiday, which was originally called Decoration Day, was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. According to the VA, May 30 was selected as the official day because flowers would be in full bloom across the nation at that time.
Memorial Day and Veterans Day honor the innumerable individuals who sacrificed themselves to preserve the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Memorial Day remembers those who gave their lives, and Veterans Day honors all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Here are some additional interesting facts about Memorial Day. As I mentioned above, Memorial Day began as Decoration Day. Decoration Day only recognized fallen soldiers of the Civil War until World War I when it transitioned to remembering all soldiers who died during the country's wars at home and abroad. In 1971, Congress standardized the holiday as Memorial Day and changed its observance to the last Monday in May.
At sunrise on Memorial Day, anyone flying a flag should raise the flag briskly to full staff and then slowly lower the flag to half-staff. This is to honor the men and women who have fallen in the line of duty. At noon, the flag should be briskly raised to full staff. This is to salute all of those who have served.
Another tradition is the national moment of silence. At 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, Americans are asked to pause for one minute to pay tribute to America's fallen soldiers. This became official after the passage of The National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000.
Being with loved ones is a meaningful way to spend the day, but I also encourage you, in some way, to remember fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. Wishing you a safe and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend.