Here’s an interesting fact about Memorial Day: it wasn’t always known as Memorial Day. Initially deemed “Decoration Day” by General John Logan, the reasoning behind the day was simple, and beautiful: to honor those that died in defense of their country. According to usmemorialday.org, General Logan, after deciding upon a day that did not memorialize any specific battle, went on to say:
“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country…”
So, that’s how people celebrated the very first Decoration Day — they decorated the graves of their fallen soldiers. While that isn’t at all a frowned-upon way to celebrate Memorial Day in 2016, it’s unfortunate that so many see Memorial Day as simply an opportunity for a three-day weekend (1971 saw Memorial Day become a federally-recognized holiday).
And it has had us wondering for some time now: just what can we do to properly celebrate Memorial Day, to demonstrate that the day is about so much more than just paid time off?
We have some great ideas, and those great ideas start here:
Send Comfort to Our Troops
Talk to anyone that has served and they’ll tell you just how meaningful it is to receive something from home, whether it be a simple “Thinking of You” card, or it be a full-blown care package. Talk to anyone that has served and they’ll tell you how much something like that can boost morale.
So, while Memorial Day is about those who have fallen, we’re really excited about the opportunity we have to show today’s troops that we love them and that we’re thankful for them. This particular opportunity through The Veterans Site sees volunteers stuff each care with food and toiletries that aren’t always available in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan or the remote outposts of Iraq, as well as letters and drawings from community members that help supply the contents, adding a small but personal touch.
Reinvent Decoration Day
Just because it’s no longer known as Decoration Day doesn’t mean that you can’t tastefully decorate yourself and yours to show your gratitude. You could top off your outfit with a beautiful American Flag Infinity Scarf. You could head out to your front-yard flag pole and follow along with the day’s flag protocol.
The goal of decorating in such a manner isn’t for YOU to stand out, but for your pride and gratitude to stand out. So, maybe just save the sparklers, fireworks, and American-flag coolers for the 4th of July. For Memorial Day, focus on subtlety, something you can find just in time to go to the Memorial Day Parade of your choice with a terrific shirt like this:
Participate in Tradition
Memorial Day traditions are traditions for a reason, right? They’re fun, repeatable, and they leave people feeling good. In the list you’ll find below are four tried and true traditions that will have you making this Memorial Day memorable for you, and for others.
Check them out:
Share the Day with Neighbors
Memorial Day is a communal event. While it most certainly can be something celebrated alone, and in reflection, we’re big fans of being as involved with others as possible. And, to us, it can’t get more American, or communal, than baking up a simple yet delicious cherry pie, and ending the day by sharing with our neighbors.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a cherry pie. But whatever it may be, this Memorial Day, please seize the opportunity to share. Share your food, share your gratitude, share your pride, and share the day.
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