Memorial Day: A Tribute to Heroes through Flags

What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day 2024 is coming up, and it's important to remember that this holiday is more than just an extended weekend. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the brave American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice while honorably serving our country.

When is Memorial Day?

Every year this holiday is observed on the last Monday of May; this year, Memorial Day is on Monday, May 27, 2024. Before 1971, it was celebrated each year on May 30.

What is the History of Memorial Day?

Memorial Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday in 1971, but the traditions of this holiday go way back to the post-Civil War era. Originally, Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day and was a day to honor fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers, wreaths, and American flags.

The tradition of decorating for Memorial Day began soon after the Civil War when relatives of troops who had died during the war would visit their graves. These commemorations were just local events at first, but they became a widespread phenomenon over the following years. Decoration Day became a national observance on May 30, 1868, when it was proclaimed by Illinois Representative John A. Logan. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, it is believed that this date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

Before World War I, Memorial Day was set aside to honor only those who fought and died in the Civil War. Following the First and Second World Wars, it became a national holiday of remembrance for all military personnel who have lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Decoration Day was officially renamed Memorial Day in 1971 and changed to the last Monday in May by an act of Congress.

Flying the American Flag at Half-Staff

Remember to fly your American flag proudly on Memorial Day this year, as it is a national flag-flying holiday steeped in over a century of tradition!

The American flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset in honor of the sacrifices made by our nation’s troops. If you are unable to lower your flag to half-staff, you can still show your respect by hanging a mourning bow or ribbon at the top of your American flag.

You might also want to fly a Memorial Day flag alongside the American flag to honor those who have served. Many individuals and organizations fly the POW/MIA flag in remembrance of those who were taken as prisoners of war or went missing in action. There are other Memorial Day flags you might see, such as the Flag for the Fallen and the Honor & Remember flag. Alternatively, if you are honoring someone specific, you may want to consider flying the flag of their military branch.

3 Ways to Honor Memorial Day Traditions

1. One Minute of Silence at 3:00 pm

While many celebrate this day with a family cookout or a trip to the beach, it's important to remember that these freedoms were made possible by the individuals who sacrificed their lives as members of the Armed Forces. At 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, Americans are encouraged to take a moment of silence. This is the National Moment of Remembrance, which was established by an act of Congress in 2000.

2. Decorating Graves

Pay your respects at the graves of friends and family who served or at a Civil War, WWI, or WWII cemetery if there is one near you. Adding flowers and flags to graves was the initial act that led to the founding of Decoration Day and remains an important tradition today. You can decorate graves with flowers, grave markers, American stick flags, and military stick flags.

3. Go to a Parade or Memorial Day Ceremony

Take part in local ceremonies and observations to honor fallen troops from your community. If you're an event organizer, consider getting a bunch of American stick flags to hand out to attendees.

Memorial Day vs Veterans Day

Memorial Day is specifically meant to honor US troops who died during their service. Veterans Day celebrates all American veterans, especially those who are still living today. For more information, read our blog post about Veterans Day, its history, and modern traditions.

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May 24, 2024 Silvia C. & Caeden F.

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