Remembering the Real Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day in Arlington National CementeryA funny thing tends to happen with federal holidays in the United States – even though they’re often born with only the noblest of intentions, people soon seem to place emphasis in the wrong areas: namely, a day off of work. Such is the case with Memorial Day, an annual holiday that people tend to get far too caught up in the commercial aspects of like a long weekend, sales and picnics. That’s all well and good, but it’s always important to take a minute to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, and to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who made it possible to enjoy these things in the first place.
The Origin of Memorial Day

The first thing to understand about Memorial Day is that it’s actually a lot older than you probably realize. It started all the way back in 1868 and was called “Decoration Day” after the American Civil War. It was designed to be a time of peace for the country to decorate the graves of Union soldiers following a lengthy period of battle that changed the shape of the United States forever.

Memorial Day as we know it came about when “Decoration Day” and a competing holiday designed to honor Confederate soldiers merged. The name was changed to reflect the fact that everyone who sacrificed their lives should be honored, regardless of which side they happened to fight on. As the country engaged in more wars over the following decades, Memorial Day became a way to honor ALL troops who protected our shores in conflicts both foreign and domestic.

Support is About More Than Remembrance: Charitable Organizations for Soldiers

Before you head out to that great backyard barbecue this year, consider making a contribution to one of the following charities. They exist in the spirit of Memorial Day itself, as a way to honor members of the armed forces and their families who have given their all so that we can enjoy so much.

* The Wounded Warrior Project
* Support Our Troops
* The Gary Sinise Foundation

Thank you to all who served.

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