Memorial Days serves as a signal to Americans that it’s time to dust off the grill and welcome back the summer season. This festive event, marked by backyard barbeques and the annual running of the Indianapolis 500, also stands as a more somber reminder to do honor to the brave men and women who have died while serving their country. As Memorial Day rolls in this year, here are some facts and bit of trivia about the day to share around the grill.
The Memorial Day tradition first took root under the name Decoration Day, generally attributed to an order issued by General John A. Logan. A version of the holiday, however, existed in the southern states prior to Logan’s order and the practice of decorating graves with flowers is thought to date back at least as far as Ancient Greece.
Memorial Day Becomes Official
The Uniform Holiday Bill went into effect in 1971, making the Memorial Day the official name and also proclaiming Memorial Day as a an official Federal holiday.
Speaking of the Uniform Holiday Bill, in addition to cementing the name as Memorial Day, the bill also made the last Monday in May the official day of celebration. The purpose of moving the celebration day of Memorial Day, along with Veteran’s Day and Washington’s Birthday, was to create 3-day weekends that provided more time for families to get together.
Moment of Silence
While you may not realize it, you’re supposed to observe a moment of silence on Memorial Day to honor the fallen. In December 2000, President Bill Clinton signed into law the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which designates 3:00 pm local time as the official moment.
AAA has released its Memorial Day Travel Forecast for 2014 and expects 36.1 million people to travel this year for Memorial Day. 88.1% of those travelers are expected to travel by car, meaning more than 31.7 million people will share the road this holiday.
You Probably Don’t Celebrate Federal Memorial Day
Technically speaking, Federal Memorial Day only applies to employees of the federal government who receive the day off. The rest of Americans actually get the day off because individual states enacted Memorial Day as a state holiday celebrated on the same day.
This year, as you gather with your friends and family, take a few minutes to share some of the history and trivia around Memorial Day. Also, when 3:00 pm rolls around, remember to take a moment of silence to honor those who have died in service to their country.