Cultural Travel: Memorial Day
By Jessie Voigts
Memorial Day is an important holiday in the United States – but do you know its true meaning? It is not only the kickoff to summer, and the first swim, BBQ party, and family gathering. It was created in 1868 to honor our fallen veterans:
“…gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime….let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”
As a memorandum from President Bill Clinton noted:
“Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”
Some families visit cemeteries to honor those who have died in the military. You can usually tell military graves by the American flags waving at each one. Spend a moment to reflect and honor them. Most towns have a Memorial Day Parade – be sure to get out and support it! Our daughter loves the music, the marching, and of course, the candy. If, in your travels and celebrations this Memorial Day, you’d like to remember the men and women who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces, here are a few ideas for booking travel for Memorial Day: Washington, DC Get a prime spot for the National Memorial Day Parade honoring veterans. Also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and take in the National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. There are plenty of memorials to visit, including
- the Air Force Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- Marine Corps Memorial and Iwo Jima Memorial
- US Navy Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- The WWII Memorial
New York City
there will be several Memorial Day Parades throughout the city, which coincides with Fleet Week (although canceled in 2013 due to budget cuts – check back for future Fleet Week events.
President Obama will place a wreath at the Chicago Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade. This parade is one of the largest in the nation. It will start at Daly Plaza and then proceed south on State Street. At the National Veterans Art Museum, you can see art inspired by combat and created by veterans . Of special interest is a new exhibit, entitled Tenacity and Truth: People, Places, and Memorials.
Another large Memorial Day Parade (at the Presidio), with a formal ceremony at the USS Pampanito at Fisherman’s Wharf. There will also be a memorial ceremony at the USS Hornet, and other local events.
At the National Museum of the Pacific War, there will be a Pacific Combat Living History Re-enactment, as well as a Memorial Day Observance.
In Oahu, join with thousands of people with the Lantern Floating ceremony. Donate a lei – over 50,000 fresh flower leis are placed on graves of those who died in our military; held at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu. Visit the National Park at the USS Arizona at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center , or the Punchbowl National Cemetery near Waikiki Beach.
In Williamsburg, discover early American history with a special Memorial Day Commemorative Program here will include a modern service, a procession with Fife and Drum, and a ceremony honoring soldiers of the American Revolution and Civil War.
At the USS Midway, Legacy Week celebrations include a veteran’s wreath ceremony, the US Navy Band, and a Meet the Aviators event.
Not traveling? Memorial Day traditions you can do at home:
- Fly the US Flag at half staff until noon
- Fly the POW/MIA flag
- Participate in the national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. (pause to reflect on the meaning of the day)
- Listen to the song Taps