Memorial Day Weekend is upon us – this long weekend is a truly American holiday. Always scheduled on the last Monday of May, this federal holiday is widely celebrated. Whether you’re scoping out sales, cooking out, or relaxing by the pool is up to you. But – let’s take a look at some of the history, and explore how to make your own Memorial Day traditions.
Decoration Day to Memorial Day
Originally known as Decoration Day, it was first enacted as a national day of remembrance for fallen Civil War soldiers. It was a somber occasion: When the war ended in the spring of 1865, it was the deadliest conflict in U.S. history to date. An estimated 620,000 men lost their lives in battle. The first Decoration Day saw 5,000 participants decorating the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Now, Memorial Day honors all veterans who died in any American war. Additionally, it has become a traditional day to visit cemeteries and decorate the grave of any deceased person. The blending of history, camaraderie, and beautiful remembrances create a unique tradition. Just a little something to contemplate as you gather together at the lake! Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and a three-day weekend is always a cause for celebration.
Memorial Day Traditions to Explore
1- Wear a Poppy
Poppies have served as a remembrance of those lost in war since World War I. The little red flower officially became the U.S. national emblem of remembrance on September 27, 1920. The famous poem “In Flanders Fields,” written in 1915 by John McCrae, served as inspiration. Today, some still wear a poppy pinned to their shirt or lapel. It’s also a popular symbol in art installations. The beauty of poppy fields is still a moving and beautiful callback to fallen soldiers.
2- Observe a Moment of Silence
No matter where you live, take a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time for The National Moment of Remembrance. For at least one minute, send your thanks, love, and prayers to active soldiers, veterans, and the many men and women who died serving our country.
3- Attend a Parade
Many communities mark the day with a patriotic parade. Parades provide a spirited occasion that honors the past and celebrates those who gave their lives for the country. Expect to see American Legion members, bands, and many more engaging floats and marchers. It’s a wonderful way to kick off the summer and join your community.
4- Fly the Flag
Displaying the Stars and Stripes on Memorial Day is a wonderful tradition to follow. Just keep in mind that there is a specific protocol to follow if you’re using a vertical flag pole. For Memorial Day only, your American flag should be flown at half-mast from sunrise until noon, then raised to full mast for the rest of the holiday.
Other holidays that are appropriate for flag display are Independence Day and other major dates like Flag Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Curious about proper flag display and usage? You can brush up on the Flag Code here.
5- Tune In to the National Memorial Day Concert
Every year, on the eve of Memorial Day, PBS serves up an incredible display with a star-studded lineup. This multi-award-winning television event honors the military service and sacrifice of all our men and women in uniform, their families, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
It’s an annual tradition that has been taking place for 30 years. Make the time to settle in and watch! You can check your local listings here.
6- Honor Family and Loved Ones at the Cemetery
For many of us, Memorial Day means a trip to the cemetery, where we add fresh flowers to gravesites, clean up memorial markers, and pause to remember friends and loved ones. Rather than bittersweet memories, Memorial Day can provide an opportunity to focus on the positive impact and legacy of our loved ones. Additionally, local groups often welcome volunteer help in decorating the graves of veterans. Some of the graves in veteran’s cemeteries are well maintained and decorated by families. Bring extra flowers and lay them by a grave that doesn’t have any.
If you’re considering a special commemorative piece for one of your loved ones, mosaic art provides a superior solution. Mozaico’s design team can customize pieces to your specifications, using art from our huge catalog – or even your own photos.
Do you have any of your own special Memorial Day traditions? Don’t be shy – share them in the comments! From family-secret ice cream recipes to treasured memories – let us know why celebrating this long weekend is a part of your summer.
Stay up to date with the latest mosaic art project news and inside stories by signing up for our newsletter!