Between Cookouts and Pool Parties, Remember the Reason

by Amanda Lanum 

Memorial Day has been declared by many as the unofficial start of summer. People plan camping trips, barbecues, pool parties... all sorts of outdoor activities for the three-day weekend. Many also take time to visit the gravesites of loved ones. Amidst all the fun in the sun, we sometimes forget the reason for the holiday:  to remember the sacrifices made by American soldiers who died while serving our country.

Did you know the holiday was known as Decoration Day, started in 1868? It was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.

It is interesting to hear from an older generation how the traditions and meaning of Memorial Day have transformed. William Forstchen writes about remembering the day as a day of "solemn dedication" when he was growing up in the '50s. Now it's considered a vacation weekend. It's interesting to read his perspective, "A Tale of Two Americas..." on this transformation and his response to why some people are not happy with the President taking his family to Chicago for the weekend and missing the presidential tradition of spending Memorial Day at Arlingtion National Cemetery. The article is here:

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