Memorial Day is often used to mark the start of summer when families gather together to enjoy a three-day weekend full of barbecues, Memorial Day parades, and more. While many look forward to the celebrations, for family members of fallen soldiers, it is a day of remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
What are the Origins of Memorial Day?
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was established on May 5, 1868, by the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans to honor soldiers who died during the Civil War.
On that day, people from across the nation brought flowers to adorn the graves of service members who lost their lives in battle. Arlington National Cemetery, the largest and most recognized military cemetery, was chosen as the site for the first large-scale Decoration Day observation, with loved ones of the fallen making speeches, singing hymns, and saying prayers before placing flowers atop both Confederate and Union graves.
As time passed, the day of remembrance expanded to include fallen members of the armed forces killed in action throughout all American wars. For many years, Americans observed the holiday on May 30 until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
This act made Memorial Day a three-day weekend, increasing the number of long weekend holidays for federal employees. It also created a set of “always on Monday” holidays, including Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day, which would later be removed and changed to November 11.
Why You Shouldn’t Say Happy Memorial Day
While Americans are accustomed to using the word happy as a holiday greeting, Memorial Day is not a happy day for those who lost loved ones in the line of service. In fact, the total number of American heroes killed in all U.S. wars totals over 1.1 million, a staggering and sobering number that highlights the high cost of freedom.
For family members of the men and women who gave their lives, calling the holiday happy and focusing only on throwing a BBQ or watching a parade on Memorial Day weekend can seem inappropriate and disrespectful. Memorial Day is deeply personal to the families of those who died in military service. Using respectful wording is one of the best ways to show consideration for their pain and sacrifice.
What to Say Instead of Happy Memorial Day
Instead of saying, “Happy Memorial Day,” there are alternative greetings you can use that pay homage to the true meaning of Memorial Day. They include:
-I hope your Memorial Day is meaningful.
-I wish you an enjoyable weekend where you remember those who are no longer with us.
-Please join me in remembering the fallen soldiers who are no longer with us this weekend.
I hope you remember the purpose of this holiday and enjoy your time with family and friends.
Other Etiquette Tips to Remember For Memorial Day
Along with respectful greetings, follow these other etiquette tips to ensure you correctly honor our country’s fallen heroes.
Be careful who you thank
One of the most common mistakes Americans make is confusing Memorial Day with Veterans Day. While it’s understandable that non-military personnel may find the two holidays confusing, they are distinctly different.
Veterans Day honors the vets and military members throughout all armed services branches, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Saying “Happy Veterans Day” and thanking military members for their service is respectful and encouraged as the correct greeting for this holiday.
Memorial Day, however, only honors those who gave their lives during active service. It is not meant for all armed service members. Thanking veterans or those on active duty military is not only unnecessary but viewed as inappropriate.
Follow proper flag etiquette
The U.S. flag code states that on Memorial Day, the American flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon and raised quickly to the staff’s top until the sun sets. Following proper flag etiquette is an excellent way to show honor and respect to our fallen heroes. View the complete American Flag Etiquette guide for more information on flag flying holidays, flag code, folding the flag, and displaying your flag.
Take a moment of silence
On Memorial Day, it is customary to take a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. for introspection and to pay homage to the men and women who gave their lives to ensure we enjoy the freedoms we know today.
Honor a Fallen Hero with Carrot-Top!
Honor the brave heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day with patriotic products from Carrot-Top Industries. As the country’s leading provider of American flags and patriotic items for over forty years, we take pride in providing our customers with the highest quality American-made products crafted to last the test of time. For any questions or advice, please reach out to our Flag Pros using the contact form.
Some of our top-selling items include:
Available for all five military branches, these durable military grave markers are made from aluminum, and are ideal for long-term use.
Official Military Flags
Show your support for the armed forces with our official military flags. We carry the widest selection of military flags for all occasions, crafted from the highest quality materials and, as always, made in the U.S.A!
Our stick U.S. cemetery flags are ideal for placing atop the graves of our American heroes and feature natural wood dowels, gilded spearheads, and heavyweight treated poly/cotton fabric and can be used directly in the ground.
This Memorial Day, honor the brave military men and women who gave their lives to ensure our country’s freedom by taking a moment to remember that all gave some, but some gave all.