Memorial Day is right around the corner. It is a sacred day of remembrance. We spend it eating BBQ and playing volleyball, but it is a nod to the thousands of lives given in the name of the United States of America…so that we can live in freedom and without fear.
So in light of that and true Hamilton Connections Style, here’s your next edition of Fun Facts with Hamilton!
1. It Started with the Civil War
General John Logan, a Union Army general, set aside May 30th, 1868 as a day “designated to strew with flowers or otherwise decorate the comrades’ graves.” Because of this, it was called Decoration Day. Although intended to commemorate the fallen on both sides of the Civil War, the South didn’t recognize the holiday for many years.
2. It Became Memorial Day –
It wasn’t until after WWI that the holiday began to recognize the fallen from all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress passed a law permanently changing the holiday to the last Monday of May. It gave federal employees a three-day weekend and is also when the day officially became known as Memorial Day.
3. A Moment of Silence
On Memorial Day, proper flag etiquette raises the flag to half-mast from sunrise until noon and then to the top until sunset. It is done out of respect and grief for the dead. In 2000, Congress enacted a National Moment of Remembrance. Every Memorial Day at 3:00, Americans pause for a moment of silence to reflect upon and remember those who gave their all.
4. Arlington’s Flags
In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, the members of the 3rd. U.S. Infantry placed flags on every grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington is one of the largest military cemeteries in the world and holds over 400,000 graves and 300,000 fallen men and women. It is also the sacred home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where Sentinels of the 3rd Infantry stand guard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Over 40 million people travel to Arlington for the holiday every year.
5. Rolling Thunder Rally
In 1988, 2500 bikers, many of them Vietnam veterans, started a rally in Washington D.C. to raise awareness for POWs and those declared missing in action. The ride, called the Rolling Thunder Run, continued through the years, and in 2018, the number of riders totaled around 500,000. The last ride was in 2019, but American Veterans (AMVETS) has picked up the torch. Participants all across the country ride for 22 miles in their communities, logging the miles in an app. It also brings awareness to the average of 22 veterans who commit suicide daily. This new tradition is called Rolling to Remember.
6. Poppies, Poppies, and More Poppies
Some people choose to wear a simple red poppy on Memorial Day. This tradition is also practiced abroad and started in 1915 with Lieutenant Colonel John McCrea’s poem, “In Flanders Fields.” The poppy is now a symbol of tribute to the fallen. The very first artificial poppy factory was established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1924 and employed jobless veterans.
Freedom isn’t free. At Hamilton Connections, we could never fully express our gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We want to wish you and your family a safe and happy Memorial Day!