The Meaning of Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is often considered to be the unofficial start of summer. School is finished, or nearly so, for most students. The weather, for those who experience all four seasons, is finally starting to warm up. Picnics and pool parties replace some of the more serious elements of life. Vacation plans start to become the center of attention.

The original meaning of the Memorial Day holiday is often lost in the celebratory side of the event. Still, there is a lot of historic and cultural significance to the holiday that goes far beyond the party atmosphere. Here are a few interesting facts about the origin and practices of this solemn day that are worth remembering.

1) The concept for a national day of remembrance originated just after the Civil War. General John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, was the first to call for a special day to be set aside to honor fallen soldiers from the massive carnage of the Civil War. It wasn't until the twentieth century that the holiday observance was extended to include the fallen soldiers of all wars.

2) The original date for celebrating Memorial Day was May 30th, regardless of what day of the week that might be in any given year.

3) It wasn't until 1971, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect, that Memorial Day was officially celebrated on the last Monday of May, guaranteeing a three day weekend for many working people.

4) Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was a time to decorate the graves of soldiers who had died in battle with flowers, flags and wreaths. The official title became Memorial Day in the 1880's and legally in 1967.


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5) Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor fallen soldiers. Veterans Day, observed in November, is a day set aside for honoring living veteran soldiers. Many people use both holidays as a time to honor and recognize all of the heroes who have defended the nation.

6) One of the less commonly followed customs surrounding Memorial Day is to fly the American flag at half-mast until noon and then raise it back up until sunset. Many people simply fly a flag at the top of the staff throughout the day. Both practices are a symbol of patriotism.

7) While the basic meaning of Memorial Day is to honor and remember the men and women who died in battle from the Civil War onward, many Americans now use the day to remember all loved ones who have passed away by decorating graves.

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year. No wonder, really, when you consider that this first warm weather holiday is the kick-off point for escaping the harsh reality of winter and the start of summer fun. Still, it is good to take a moment to reflect on the men and women throughout history who have sacrificed to make it all possible.


About the author: Brian Carroll is the CEO of Pivot Insurance and holds CLU & CPCU designations. He has been part of the life insurance industry for over 30 years. He is also an avid runner and has participated in many athletic endurance events. Brian established the anonymous life insurance quote process here at Pivot and takes pride in the caring and professional staff. You can reach Brian at 1-800-651-1953 or bcarroll@pivot.com.

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