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Learn more about Memorial Day, its history, and its timeless origins.
Memorial Day is perhaps one of the most important and most respected holidays in the United States. Every year, people everywhere in the country come together as a way to celebrate the many men and women who have served the United States through their service in the military. Some gave their lives for us, while others sacrificed so much and put their welfare in great danger, for the greater good.
Memorial Day is more than just a long weekend, where people can take a break and relax with their family members. It is actually an important cultural staple, deeply rooted within the country's culture and personality.
Memorial Day dates back the years immediately following the American Civil War. It has been an official federal holiday ever since 1971 when the authorities rightfully recognized it!
To many people, Memorial Day also marks the "unofficial start" of the summer season. Since it happens at the end of May, this is exactly when spring is coming to a close, and summer is starting to creep in. The days get warmer and brighter, and as a result, people tend to spend more time outside, enjoying the company of friends and partaking in fun activities. Memorial Day is a favorite time to host some killer BBQ parties, and revel in the beautiful start of the warm season.
As you might know, the Civil War was one of the darkest times in American history. These conflicts claimed many lives, more so than any other war in the history of the country. The death toll was so high that the government needed to establish national cemeteries, particularly dedicated to those who died during the war.
It didn't take long before citizens from various US cities spontaneously decided to pay tribute to the soldiers who died, decorating their graves with flowers during the spring or early summer season. The practice eventually morphed into a tradition, which is highly respected to this very day.
Surprisingly, it is not fully understood where the Memorial Day traditional originated, because it seems that different communities started to pay tribute to these soldiers independently. Most researchers contend that the practice took place during the spring or early summer because it's when flowers bloom, and this is the best time to decorate gravestones with new flowers, as a symbol of new life coming into this world from the ashes of those who were here before us. The flower is also a symbol of beauty and grace, a strong tribute to the lives of the fallen, who have been taken away from this world due to the harshness of war.
Although the actual birthplace of Memorial Day isn't known for sure, the government decided that Waterloo, New York, should be the official birthplace of Memorial Day! This is the reason why many tourists and visitors from all over America visit that location during the festivities.
One of the most important figures in the history of Memorial Day was definitely John A. Logan. He was a general, who founded an organization for Northern Civil War veterans. Logan was one of the earliest proponents of a national day dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers, understanding the significance of the sacrifice that those people made to preserve the future and the stability of the country.
Initially, memorial day was known as "Decoration Day," due to the fact that people used to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with beautiful flowers. Needless to say, General Logan's idea was actually really well-received, and it didn't take long for it to catch on nationwide.
The Southern states, which had lost the war, initially had a different day on which they'd honor fallen soldiers. However, the whole country converged together into a unified memorial day right after the first world war. For better or for worse, the first World War unified the country's identity even more. This time, the sacrifice wasn't about Southern or Northern states: it was all about being American and fighting for a better world.
Today, Memorial Day is not only a way to celebrate the people who had died during the Civil War era. It is all about commemorating members of the American military outfits who lost their lives in every war. It's a true celebration of patriots who gave everything for their country, and for our community. For many years, Memorial Day was celebrated on the 30th of May. However, things changed by the late 1960s.
In the year 1968, in fact, the American Congress decided that Memorial Day was going to be observed every last Monday in May, as a way to allow people to take a longer break. Effectively, Memorial Day became a long weekend, with three days off for people to unwind and celebrate this federal holiday.
So, what's the best way to celebrate Memorial Day? Your mileage might vary! Some people prefer to keep in the family, while others like to go out and enjoy some public events. Many cities across America actually host special events throughout the Memorial Day weekends, including concerts and other public happenings, festivals, and more. On the other hand, many people prefer a more traditional approach to celebrating Memorial Day, visiting local cemeteries, or even taking longer trips to iconic memorials in other states. For some, Memorial Day is an excellent opportunity to get to travel through America and visit new places. Others like to take a weekend off, just to break away from their usual routines.
To this day, some people show their respect by wearing a red poppy, a very iconic tradition, which originated during the World War I era.
Regardless of how you wish to celebrate this public holiday, Memorial Day has long been considered as a way for people to get together, and appreciate each other's company. This is a perfect day to remember that life is precious and that spending it with the ones we love is truly important.
During Memorial Day, many people love to travel to the warmest states. For instance, Florida and California are popular destinations.
Some people also hop over to Mexico, to popular destinations such as Cancun. Having said that, many other people love to travel to colder places. Iceland is becoming an increasingly popular destination. It's not as far as mainland Europe, and it's exciting enough to present a really interesting holiday opportunity!
There are so many exciting destinations to choose from, and the most amazing thing is that a 3-day weekend is actually the perfect opportunity to go somewhere different and head out on the year's most exciting adventure!
Even though traveling is certainly exciting, not everyone loves to get away. Some might not want to spend the money or go through the trouble of going somewhere else, they might really enjoy their time in the comfort of their homes or towns. This is the best time to organize something fun with friends and relatives. Throughout most of the year, it's quite hard to find the time to get together, due to work, distances, or other commitments. However, Memorial Day is an amazing time for people to get tighter and spend some quality time celebrating such an important and timeless holiday.
Although Memorial Day is rooted in something sad, such as the deaths of soldiers, it brings so much joy to people. This is quite uplifting because it is not about being sad for those who died, but rather celebrating the joy of their lives, and thanking them for their ultimate sacrifice, which made it possible for us to be here today and enjoy the lifestyle we lead. If it wasn't for these brave souls who have preserved our freedom throughout history, we probably wouldn't be sitting here trying to decide what to do or where to go on our next vacation!
There you have it: Memorial Day is so much more than a three-day weekend: it is actually a really important celebration, that's deeply rooted within the history and identity of the United States of America!