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Memorial Day and the Indy 500

By Cody |

Memorial Day brings thoughts of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cemeteries, watermelon, the American flag, veterans, and soldiers. Here in Indiana the Indy 500 is a pre-Memorial Day celebration that lasts for nearly a month. The 500 Festival kicks off with the Mini-Marathon and is followed by race practice days, Carb day, Pole day, a parade and many other events. It consumes Hoosiers during the month of May.

The month long celebration concludes with the Indy 500 and its post race celebration. Hoosiers and many other sports fans refer to it as the world’s greatest sporting event, and I’m not sure how you can argue with that. The event draws around 350,000 spectators year in and year out.

After living in Indiana for five years, I attended my first Indy 500 last year. I went with my parents, who were also attending for the first time as well. I had never been around so many people and I had never heard the sound of so many cars running at speeds of 220 MPH at once. The sound alone was unforgettable. A sound so strong that you could feel the cars zip by.

My wife and I weren’t planning on going to the Indy 500 this year. Addie, who we sometimes call “grandma Addie,” doesn’t like the noise level and has no desire to see the race in person. Vivi, well, even though there were younger babies at the race, she won’t be attending the Indy 500 for a few more years.

On Friday, my wife went to a local Macy’s store with several of her friends for a meet and greet with Mario Andretti. Half way through her little party, I got a text message saying she had won four suite tickets to the Indy 500 in a dance off. My initial thought was, “Of course you did.” The woman gets an idea in her head and she always finds a way to accomplish her goal. Here’s her reaction when she learned she won the dance off:


Thanks to Casey, we got to watch the Indy 500 from a suite in Gasoline Alley. Considering yesterday’s race was the hottest in its history, getting to sit in 67 degree air conditioned suite was priceless.

At some point after yesterday’s race, I began wondering why it isn’t held on Memorial Day each year.  I don’t know the real reason, but I’m actually glad that it is held the day before Memorial Day.

Memorial Day should be a day designated for the honoring of the soldiers who have died protecting our country and the soldiers who are currently protecting our freedom. In my opinion, holding the Indy 500 on Memorial Day would take away from the holiday’s true purpose.

One of the things my wife has tried to have us do each Memorial Day is visit Indy’s largest cemetery, where we have seen retired veterans individually appear to salute their fellow soldiers while Taps plays in the background.

I want my family to retain its focus of honoring the soldiers on Memorial Day rather than focusing on a relatively meaningless sporting event. The cheeseburgers, hot dogs and watermelon should be a bonus, not a focus.

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The Indy 500 and the Purpose of Memorial Day

Crown Hill Cemetery

A plaque at Crown Hill Cemetery.

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About Cody



Cody is a father, husband, practicing attorney, and loyal football fan who is outnumbered by girls in every area of his life. He's also been known to drink maple syrup straight out of the bottle. Read bio and latest posts → Read Cody's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “Memorial Day and the Indy 500

  1. Chrysta says:

    As the wife of an active duty soldier who has deployed (even though he’s a dentist), whose father is a Vietnam vet and who has two Navy brothers, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding people that it’s Memorial Day, not National Kick-Off the Summer with a BBQ Day. Thanks, Cody.

    1. theycallmecody says:

      @Chrysta, Thanks for the comment. My grandfather was a Korean War veteran and my parents always made sure that we visited his grave each Memorial Day. I understand that people want to have a BBQ and enjoy the holiday, but at the very least there should be an emphasis on honoring the soldiers.

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