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Take A Minute on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is here.

For many of us, this is a much-needed three-day weekend that offers a welcome excuse to grill and shoot fireworks prior to summer’s official start date next month. For kids, it means the end of school is nigh, often coinciding with the opening of park district and community pools staffed by eager college students fresh home from spring semester studies.

Most everyone will find time to celebrate the unofficial start of summer one way or another whether that means road trips, barbecues or beach days. But somewhere in the festivities, we must take a moment to recognize the men and women in uniform that have made these pastimes possible. So let’s take a minute to reflect on the origins of this day … that wasn’t always known as Memorial Day.

Originally called Decoration Day, this honored day of remembrance started during the Civil War. Soldiers used wreaths, flowers and flags to decorate the graves of those who lost their lives during the conflict. In 1868, three years after the war ended, Major General John A. Logan declared the holiday be moved to the end of May so more flowers would be in bloom, marking the occasion with an observance ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery. Flags were placed on each grave, just as it is done now, and crowd attendance was very much the same back then as it is in present day – about 5,000 people.

What most people don’t know is, they are legally required to observe a National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. President Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in December 2000, requiring Americans to pause and honor the fallen at 3pm local time. Unfortunately, this moment of reflection is often overlooked on account of countless neighborhood get-togethers and weekend traffic, with nearly 40 million people headed to destinations greater than 50 miles from home.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, we want you to celebrate safely and responsibly. And whenever possible, please take a moment to remember those who have died defending our country. It is because of their courage and bravery, that we have been afforded such impassioned freedoms.

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