In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day to be the last Monday of every May – henceforth. Today – Monday, May 29th – marks the 52nd time Memorial Day has been federally observed in the United States. Its origin, however, began long before. It dates back to the late 1860s – shortly after the end of the Civil War. In May of 1868, it was the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – an organization made up of Union veterans, who established what was then ‘Decoration Day’, and is now the Memorial Day we recognize, remember, and honor.
Initially, it was all about the red poppies. The month of May was believed to be chosen to commemorate the lives of our fallen soldiers because flowers – in theory – would be in bloom all throughout the country. Giving way for us to pay tribute to the sacrifice made. Acknowledging those we lost, preserving the memory of each life lived. Decorating their final resting place with the foliage of spring.
Memorial Day is a time set aside to honor the troops who died on our behalf throughout America’s seasoned and recent history. A day to acknowledge the bounty these service people across all arms of the U.S. Military left behind. The benefaction is more than significant. Their legacy is our freedom.
Join us, as Hitachi Solutions takes this moment to be mindfully grateful to all military personnel who died while serving their country. Through varying degrees of separation, we remember them in earnest.
As one would imagine – with Memorial Day, comes some interesting and historic U.S. trivia.
Did you know?
- Memorial Day has specific flag etiquette. Each year, at sunrise on the last Monday of May, anyone flying the American Flag should raise it briskly to full-staff, and then immediately and slowly, lower the flag to half-staff. This represents the fallen soldiers. At noon, the flag should, once again, be briskly raised to full-staff, as a salute to all who have served.
- In 1873, to accommodate the large number of visitors on what was then known as ‘Decoration Day’, an amphitheater was built in just 28 days at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Located just yards from the Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns, the original structure (renamed the Tanner Amphitheater in 2014), still stands today.
- The States are still bickering. Who really deserves congressional recognition as the honorary “Birthplace of Memorial Day”? Waterloo, NY has the official title but States such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and South Carolina beg to differ.
- Approximately 818 hot dogs are consumed every second from Memorial Day to Labor Day, an estimated 7 billion in total!
- A 1997-98 investigation by CBS News prompted the Defense Department to take a second look at the remains of one of the unknown soldiers, interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Believed to be those of an Air Force pilot whose A-37 attack jet was shot down near the Cambodian border in 1972, the remains in question were disinterred – a DNA sample extracted. Determined to be a match to his mother Jean, Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie had found his name. Lieutenant Blassie was reburied near his hometown of St. Louis. His crypt at Arlington remains permanently empty.
- Carl Fisher, or “Crazy Carl” as he was known, ran the first Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day in 1911. Fishers’ team ordered 3.2 million bricks to pave the course, creating what became known as the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The winning driver that day was Ray Harroun, who averaged 74.6 mph and completed the race in six hours and 42 minutes.
- Why 3 pm? In 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. in an act of national unity. That particular time was chosen because 3 p.m. “is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.”
- Just before Memorial Day, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or “Old Guard” places an American flag on service members’ gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. “Flag In” as the tradition is known, is to honor America’s heroes and has taken place since 1948.