“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy
What do you have planned at 3 PM on Memorial Day? Even if you have plans, create a reminder to set aside at least a moment at 3 PM to pay respect to all of the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom through their military service.
Originally known as “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day was first observed in 1866 as a way to honor Civil War Veterans. The name officially changed to Memorial Day in 1966. In 2000, Congress passed the National Day of Remembrance Act, which asks Americans at 3 PM local time to take a minute of silence and reverence to honor the brave men and women who paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom. According to Forbes, “For one minute on Memorial Day, we’re all stopping everything to pay our respects to the men and women who died in service of our country, especially those who died in battle. The time of 3 PM was chosen because it’s likely when Americans are most enjoying the freedom made possible by those who died in service of their country.”
There are several ways to take an active role in honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. For one, parades take place across the country to honor military members. Additionally, a popular way to show respect is to visit a local cemetery and place flags or flowers on the graves of servicemen and women as a token of respect. Another way to honor members of the military is to visit your local veteran’s hospital and thank a veteran in person for their service.
Memorial Day can also be an opportunity to not only thank and think about our fallen veterans, but veterans who are returning home after serving their country. The road back to civilian life can often be bumpy and we need to do more to ease the transition. One major way we can help our veterans is to create jobs that suit a veteran’s unique skill set. The manufacturing sector presents promising opportunities for veterans upon their return.
Memorial Day is not just about enjoying warm weather and backyard BBQs with family and friends. It is a day that allows us to express gratitude to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. So today, for at least one minute at 3 PM, remember to offer your gratitude and respect to our fallen heroes.