Memorial Day 2015 promises a lot of fun activities for families including parades, fun runs, and other events for them to attend. There are also plenty of vacation deals and cruises still available for those who want to get away for the three-day weekend.
Memorial Day is far more than just a vacation holiday or a time to have a barbecue. It is the day that Americans commemorate those who gave their lives while serving in our nation’s armed forces.
Before taking off to enjoy the holiday, there are 10 facts you need to know:
1. Memorial Day wasn’t originally called Memorial Day. It was originally named Decoration Day. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers to remember them and their sacrifice on the battlefield.
2. Originally, Memorial Day was designated to honor Civil War dead. Later it was changed to honor all Americans who had given their lives in the service of the country.
3. The first Decoration Day took place about one month after the end of the Civil War in 1865. In several states, the practice of placing flowers on the graves began in 1866. Although several towns lay claim to the holiday, in 1966, Waterloo, NY was designated the official birthplace of the holiday.
4. It is legally required to observe a National Moment of Remembrance. In 2000 Congress passed a law that designated 3:00 p.m. as the time to stop and pause to remember those who had died, according to Time.
5. Although there are many different customs and traditions associated with the holiday, there are two common traditions observed everywhere. The first is lowering the flag to half mast until noon and raising it to full mast until sundown. The other tradition is playing Taps at military funerals.
6. Several Southern states also celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. The date of the celebration is different from state to state although most Southern states celebrate in either April or May.
7. Although Memorial Day is a solemn occasion, the Indianapolis 500 was instituted on May 30, 1911. Indianapolis businessman Carl Fisher started it, and the first driver to win was Ray Harroun, who averaged 74.6 MPH and finished the race in six hours and 42 minutes, reports Mental Floss.
8. The original date designated for the commemoration was May 30. This was the day that flowers all over the country were in bloom. Since then the date has been changed to the last Monday of May, and Memorial Day 2015 occurs on May 25th.
9. The first large federal observance occurred at Arlington, the former home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After the war, it became a cemetery to bury the nation’s dead. During a ceremony where speeches were given, children of the Soldier’s and Sailors’ Home and members of the Grand Army of the Republic walked through the cemetery singing hymn and reciting poetry while strewing flowers on the graves, reports Veterans Affairs.
10. Millions of people will travel over 50 miles to commemorate the holiday. Last year over 36 million people traveled during the Memorial Day weekend.
What are your plans for the Memorial Day 2015 holiday?
[Photo Credit Memorial Day USA]