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Acts of honor

The unknown history of Memorial Day, and some great ways to support the families of the fallen.


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  • On the last Monday of May, Americans celebrate Memorial Day—honoring those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2022 occurs on Monday, May 30.
  • Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Grateful remembrance

On May 1, 1865, a crowd of 10,000 people, mostly freed slaves, staged a parade around the Washington Race Course in Charleston, South Carolina, honoring Union prisoners who had died in Confederate captivity there. Three thousand Black school children carried bouquets of flowers and sang “John Brown’s Body.” Members of the famed 54th Massachusetts and other Black Union regiments were in attendance and performed double-time marches. Black ministers recited verses from the Bible — making the gathering the first recorded Memorial Day event. 

Mindful Memorial Day

Most of us consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial beginning of summer. But for thousands of families, the meaning is much deeper – a day to remember and honor the men and women of America’s armed forces who didn’t return from their service. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Just as many fire up the barbecue and simply enjoy the long weekend. According to Abby Hyde, U.S. Army Veteran and co-chair of the U.S. Service Members Employee Resource Group that’s just fine. “There’s nothing at all wrong with enjoying the freedoms our troops defend—that’s why they do what they do. But on Memorial Day, I do think it’s important to be mindful of the sacrifices they made, and of the burdens their families bear, in particular.” 

Ways to give back

If you’d like to help make a difference in the lives of the families of the fallen, here are a few highly-rated charities devoted to easing their burden: 

TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) has “provided comfort and hope 24/7 through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.”  Give. Volunteer.

The USO and their partners step up in the immediate aftermath of tragedy in myriad ways – working 24/7 to coordinate support and meet the needs of families who have just received the worst news possible.  Give. Volunteer.

#TheHonorProject is an initiative of the Travis Manion Foundation devoted to supporting families of the fallen. Give. Volunteer.

Taking a moment

The National Moment of Remembrance occurs at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day – it’s a simple minute of silence in honor of the fallen. If you’re cooking out – it’s a great time to offer a toast and take a moment to reflect the ultimate sacrifice so many have made.

We wish you all a good, relaxing Memorial Day weekend, and want the families of all who’ve fallen to know – we’re grateful for your sacrifice and ready to step up for you.


Originally published May 23, 2022

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