According to the definition in Wikipedia, “Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.”
So it is really a rather sad day if you ask me. The confusion lays in, should we celebrate with BBQs and sporting events? Or, should we quietly contemplate our losses with family and friends? Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many take time to visit the graves of their fallen relatives and place an American flag and flowers. Can remembrance also be joyful?
While on this particular holiday, people gather put flowers on graves, it seems like a wonderful opportunity to also renew contacts with relatives and others. Many will gather at a picnic or BBQ. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.
(Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day.
Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving,
while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
Thanking active military for their service is not appropriate on Memorial Day.)
- On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States should be raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
- Local Memorial Day observances are often marked by dedications and remarks by veterans, state legislators, and selectmen.
- The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
- The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.
- For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars.
- One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, an auto race which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911. It runs on the Sunday preceding the Memorial Day holiday. NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 has been held later the same day since 1961. The Memorial Tournament golf event has been held on or close to the Memorial Day weekend since 1976. The final of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship is currently held on Memorial Day.
- In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 P.M.
How will your hotel choose to observe Memorial Day Weekend?
I think the most honorable tribute would be to fly the flag, keep a list of weekend observances handy for those who would like to explore, and simply provide the great service our properties are known for. Posting a poem on your front desk, playing patriotic music in the lobby, and/or taking time to craft an honorarium for local fallen heroes on your social media pages would also be appropriate. Hosting a BBQ, having red, white and blue candy at the front desk, or other types of activities might also be appropriate if done tastefully. Making sales calls and giving out small flags with your sales kits could be honorable as well.
There are many films out there that honor the fallen heroes. Memorial Day is one such film. Featuring the film could breed comradery in your great room.
I am going to honor my Father by visiting his grave and laying flowers. He was a brave man who served in the US Army for 32 years. He sacrificed his life as a result of service. It is because of men like my Father that our country is free and honorable. I am also going to a picnic with close friends and will toast our loved ones.
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
By Joyce Kilmer
“Dulce et decorum est”
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.