Memorial Day is on Monday, May 28th. It’s a federal holiday and many people mark the occasion with a day off of work. But Memorial Day is much more than a day off. It’s a day for honoring the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives for their country.
History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day was first unofficially observed in 1865, after the Civil War. It was originally known as Decoration Day, so named because it was a day when people would visit cemeteries to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. Memorial Day was nationally-recognized in 1868 with a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Recognition of the day spread throughout the country. In 1971, the last Sunday in May was designated as a three-day federal Memorial Day holiday.
4 Special Ways to Observe Memorial Day
Memorial Day is often about spending time with family, grilling outside and enjoying the late spring weather, but also take time to recognize the sacrifice so many members of the armed forces have made throughout the history of our country.
Decorate a Loved One’s Grave
Think back to the original observance of Memorial Day and the decoration of graves. You may have a family member or ancestor who was in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a time to recognize his or her service. Decorate that person’s grave site with flowers to express your remembrance and appreciation. Consider a Serenity Wreath or Patriotic Salute bouquet, or stop by any Peoples Flowers location for a custom arrangement.
Visit a National Cemetery
National cemeteries have special events to mark Memorial Day. For example, Santa Fe National Cemetery decorates the graves with flags just prior to Memorial Day. Fresh cut flowers may be placed on the graves. Potted plants are allowed during the 10-day period before and after Memorial Day. Typically, a special ceremony is conducted in the morning. Make plans to be in attendance. New Mexico is also home to the Fort Bayard National Cemetery in Fort Bayard.
Attend a Memorial Day Event
Albuquerque plays host to a wide variety of Memorial Day activities. The New Mexico Philharmonic performs at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo on May 26. This makes for a great family activity. Pack a picnic and sit on the expansive lawn. The New Mexico Veterans Memorial on Louisiana usually hosts a observance ceremony on Memorial Day. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire is presenting a morning Flag March and Memorial Day Ceremony with special speakers and music from the 44th Army Band.
Volunteer for a Community Group
There are many ways to show your appreciation for our fallen soldiers. One meaningful way to give back is to volunteer for a charity or veterans’ organization. Consider volunteering at a veterans’ cemetery to help with maintenance or give tours. Check into volunteer opportunities at your local VA hospital. Support a group that supports our current soldiers, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, Homes for Our Troops and Operation Homefront. If you don’t have the time to volunteer, then think about making a donation to help these worthy organizations continue their important work. By giving back, you will never forget the true meaning behind Memorial Day.