25 Interesting Things About Memorial Day

Posted by , Updated on May 28, 2016

Observed on the last Monday in May Memorial Day is a major remembrance day that deserves our attention. It is a day where we come together to remember the sacrifice of many for the freedom of many of us enjoy today. See the origins and much more of this wonderful day with these 25 interesting things about Memorial Day.

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Originally commemorating the Union and Confederate soldiers fallen in the American Civil War, Memorial Day was formerly known as the Decoration Day.

American Civil WarSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

The true origins of who held the first Memorial Day celebration is a debated subject as there were several claims made in different places such as Warrenton (Virginia), Savannah (Georgia) and Gettysburg (Pennsylvania).

Memorial DaySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Originally, Memorial Day was observed on May 30 and it was not until 1971 when the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May to ensure the prolonged weekend.

25 Interesting Things About Memorial DaySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

In the same year, 1971, Memorial Day also became a federal holiday.

Memorial DaySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Located in Arlington Country, Virginia, the Arlington National Cemetery is one of the places where major Memorial Day ceremonies take place. One of the largest cemeteries in the world, it is home to 400,000 graves.

Arlington National CemeterySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

On each Memorial Day, almost 40 million Americans travel more than 50 miles from their homes for the weekend, making the traffic on this holiday extremely heavy.

trafficSource: time.com (image: en.wikipedia.org)

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act which requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3pm on Memorial Day to remember and honor those who have died serving the United States.

Moment of silenceSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

This moment of remembrance is a one-minute period observed even by many large companies and organizations such as Greyhound, Amtrak, MLB, Empire State Building and others.

Empire State BuildingSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Northern states adopted Memorial Day (known as the Decorative Day back then) earlier and with more enthusiasm than the former Confederate states.

ourheroesSource: mentalfloss.com (image: wikipedia.org)

In fact, it was not until after the World War I when the South finally adopted the holiday. At that time, the purpose of Memorial Day was broadened to include American soldiers fallen in all wars, not just in the Civil War.

memorialSource: mentalfloss.com (image: Beverly, CC License 2.0)

Wearing red poppies, a popular Memorial Day tradition, originated from a poem called “In Flanders Field” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915.

red poppySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

In 1924, faced by a shortage of poppies from French manufacturers, a first artificial poppy factory was created in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It employed veterans who needed work.

poppiesSource: www.indianapolis.va.gov (image:wikipedia.org)

On Memorial Day, bikers hold an event known as the Rolling Thunder Run. In this annual motorcycle rally, participants raise awareness of Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.

Rolling Thunder RunSource: dc.about.com (image: en.wikipedia.org)

Held in Washington DC, the rally started out with some 2,500 participants in 1988. These days, it is a major event with almost a million bikers and spectators involved in it.

Rolling Thunder RunSource: rollingthunderrun.com (image: commons.wikimedia.org)

There is also a PGA Tour Golf tournament held on or close to the Memorial Day weekend since 1976. Known as the Memorial Tournament, it is played in Dublin, Ohio.

tournSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Apart from the federal Memorial Day, some southern states also celebrate what is usually called the Confederate Memorial Day. Created to honor those who died fighting for the Confederation in the Civil War, the day is observed on the last Monday of April in Georgia and Mississippi, June 3 in Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, April 26 in Florida, May 10 in the Carolinas and January 19 in Texas.

SonsofconfederateSource: en.wikipedia.org (image: commons.wikimedia.org)

Every year, the Memorial Day celebration at the Arlington Cemetery is attended by approximately 5,000 people.

Arlington CemeterySource: www.washingtonpost.com (image: en.wikipedia.org )

One of the Memorial Day traditions was to eat a picnic meal while sitting on the ground of a cemetery. Some people in rural areas of the south still practice it.

PicnicSource: www.softschools.com (image: Cody and Maureen, CC License 2.0)

Directed by Sam Fisher, there is a 2012 film called “The Memorial Day”. The plot revolves around a 13 year old boy who finds his grandfather´s footlocker from the World War II.

The Memorial DaySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. Then, it is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

US flagSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, Memorial Day is now the second-most popular holiday (after the Fourth of July) for a sun-baked barbecue with 53 percent of people grilling on the holiday.

BBQSource: hpba.org (image: commons.wikimedia.org)

The longest running Memorial Day parade takes place in the town of Ironton, southern Ohio where they have had a parade every year since 1868.

Ironton, ohioSource: ducksters.com (image: Commons.wikimedia.org)

The first Memorial Day speech was given by James Abram Garfield, then an Ohio congressman and later American President, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 1868.

James Abram Garfieldwww.livescience.com (image: en.wikipedia.org)

Two of the biggest car races of the year take place on Memorial Day weekend. The NASCAR Coca Cola 600 race in Charlotte, North Carolina and the The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in Indiana, are both held on the Sunday preceding the Memorial Day.

Car raceSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Performed on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., The National Memorial Day Concert is also held to pay tribute to fallen US soldiers. Attended by more than half a million people at the venue, the concert can be watched by US military personnel all over the world.

DCConcertSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

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