Memorial Day is probably best known as the three day holiday which officially starts the summer season. Typically, the day is celebrated with family, friends and neighbors gathering together and having cookouts; with hotdogs, hamburgers and beer being the most popular food items. Children love the day because it marks the beginning of beach season and the opening of the neighborhood pools.

Memorial Day is actually not meant to be a celebration at all. The fact is, the day was originally meant to be a day of solemn remembrance of  fallen war veterans. While there are no historical records to indicate when and where Memorial Day had its’ official start; it is believed that it began sometime during the Civil War. The wives and families of fallen Civil War soldiers would go out to the mass grave sites and place flowers, Bibles, family photos and other items on the graves.  This tradition was known as “Decoration Day.”   The first official “Decoration Day” came in 1868, when flowers and flags were placed on graves in Arlington National Cemetery.  In 1951,   a poet by the name of Moina Michael started selling red, white and blue flowers, with the proceeds going to military families in need.  However, the Memorial Day holiday did not become official until Congress passed the bill in 1971.

Besides cookouts and trips to the beach, there are many ways that college students can help keep alive the real meaning of Memorial Day.

  1. Fly the United States flag at half mass until noon.
  2. Volunteer to place flags on the graves of war veterans.
  3. Visit a Civil War battlefield.
  4. Fly a MIA/POW flag in remembrance of soldiers that have never come home.
  5. Participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance”  by taking a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day.
  6. Make a charitable contribution to a charity that offers support to war veterans and their families.
  7. Show your pride by wearing your red, white and blue.
  8. Volunteer to help with your neighborhood parade.
  9. Listen to patriotic music/watch patriotic movies
  10. Visit a war memorial.

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