Memorial Day, observed this year on Monday, May 26, 2014, is a time-honored celebration of all the men and women who have fought for the freedom of all Americans -- regardless of age, gender, religion or creed. While it’s a time of family and sharing, it's not just about hotdogs and parades.
Here are some facts behind Memorial Day to share with your grandchildren that help explain why all Americans celebrate the day:
M onday -- the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is celebrated throughout the U.S. It wasn't always celebrated on Monday. It used to be celebrated on May 30. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Act moved the celebration to Monday to allow for a long weekend.
E xtended family reunions are often held on Memorial Day.
M emorials and cemeteries are visited. This year, the AAA estimates that more than 36 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles to celebrate Memorial Day, more than any since the recession.
O ne of the most revered of holidays for military families.
R emembering the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
I ncludes memorials and remembrance, celebrations and parades.
A merican flag is typically placed at grave sites in national cemeteries.
L ate Spring celebration vs. the end of summer Labor Day celebration.
D ecoration Day is what it used to be called because soldiers would decorate the graves of their fallen countrymen with flowers, flags and wreaths. The name was changed in the 1880s to Memorial Day but it didn't become a mandatory until December 2000 when Congress passed a law requiring Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to remember and honor the fallen.
A ctivities that are national and family-oriented support the celebration, from family and friends gather for barbecues and parades to times of reflection, moments of silence and silent prayers.
Y ou may or may not have a loved one to honor, but this is the day to remember with gratitude all those who have fought for your freedom.
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