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5 Things About Memorial Day: A History Lesson for You & the Kids

Memorial DayOn Monday we will be celebrating Memorial Day and hopefully most of you will have the day off to spend with family, friends and the kids. And while you may be looking forward to sinking your teeth into a great big freshly grilled burger, going on vacation, checking out the holiday sales or just kicking it in front of the TV, we should all remember what the day is really all about. Memorial Day  is a day to honor and commemorate all the United States soldiers who have given their life and have died while serving the country.

Here are five other things to remember about Memorial Day- a history lesson for you and your family:

Memorial Day always falls on the last Monday of May. For 2011, it will fall on May 30th.  Originally the holiday was actually always to be celebrated on May 30th, and that date was picked because it was a day that was not an anniversary of a battle. But it then changed to be the last Monday of the month in 1968 in order to make it more convenient to take off but that didn’t become a federal law until 1971.

The day was originally called Decoration Day but the name was changed to Memorial Day in 1882. And that name didn’t become “official” until years later and finally was in 1967.

The tribute began after the American Civil War and was a day to honor the Confederate and Union soldiers who died during battle, the first observance was back in 1866 (on May 5th) and took place in Waterloo.  After World War 1, the range was widened to include those who died during that war as well. And now it is a day dedicated to all who have lost their lives while serving the country in any and all wars.

Memorial Day now is seen as a symbol to the start of summer and has become synonymous with BBQs and pool parties.  And while some go to visit the graves of fallen soldiers at military graveyards, others take advantage of the Memorial Day sales, have picnics and parties.

Banks, federal offices, schools and the post office are all closed on Memorial Day. And to pay tribute to all those who have died during service to our country, all flags are put down to half mass.

Image: Flickr

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