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Memorial Day Traditions You May Not Know

We officially have a girl crush on Carol Cassara. She’s a straight-shooting dame, and a gifted writer. Prolific and skilled, visit her blog every weekday for new musings, insights, and slices of life from this memoirist. Read more from Carol on her eponymous blog.
Did you know that Memorial Day began after the Civil War as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation?  And, it was a day to remember all deceased loved ones, not just service personnel.That tradition remains: go to any cemetery today and you’ll see families visiting the graves of those who have gone before them.
memorial-day-traditionsThere are some other traditions, as well.At 3pm there is always a national moment of remembrance. Who knew? How about that flags are to be flown half-staff (honoring those who have lost their lives in service of our country) until noon, then raised to full-staff?
Who’s responsible for disseminating this information and why didn’t I get that memo?Are you old enough to remember when this day was called Decoration Day?
Not so long ago– it didn’t get officially named Memorial Day until 1967. A year later, dates were changed for this holiday and two others so they could become official federal holidays with three-day weekends (also Veterans Day and Washington’s Birthday). It was controversial.
Some thought that making a three-day weekend out of the day with picnics, car races and other festivities cheapened it.
I don’t agree. Life, after all, is for the living. Honoring our lost loved ones and then moving on with a day of celebration seems fitting.

Carol A. Cassara

I'm an essayist, a blogger, a teacher and someone who loves to live out loud. My essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Christian Science Monitor and various literary and news publications.

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Dr.Margaret Rutherford

Monday 26th of May 2014

I am old enough! I remember these things as well Carol. I didn't know the flag ritual however - I guess that honors the dead and the living... Thanks so much!


Saturday 24th of May 2014

Learned many things today! Thank you, Carol!

Roz Warren

Saturday 24th of May 2014

Whatever you want to call it, I'm glad it's here. Thanks for a fascinating history lesson.

Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver

Friday 23rd of May 2014

I agree completely agree Carol. In my hometown it there was a beautiful parade that everybody came out for. We celebrated with fireworks and picnics but everyone knew that it was a day of remebrance. That is as it should be.

Shelley Zurek

Friday 23rd of May 2014

Maybe we should have just left it at Decoration Day...(I didnt know that)

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