Summer is a great time to relax, catch a baseball game, and drink a couple of beers. However, we also have a couple of summer holidays to consider too. But beyond a three day weekend, what do these holidays stand for? What traditions are associated with each? What the heck are we celebrating anyway?
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and is celebrated in remembrance of those who died serving the nation. It was first observed on
May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington Cemetery. New York was the first state to recognize Memorial day officially, and all northern states recognized it by 1890. Though Memorial Day is an official federal holiday, southern states still have other days to recognize dead Confederates, even though Memorial Day began celebrating veterans of all wars after World War I.
Many communities celebrate Memorial Day with remembrance activities, parades, and picnics. Each family has their own tradition of course, and many use the three day weekend as a chance to get out of the house, hit the road, and head for the water. Others enjoy the weekend as a chance for family reunions, packing parks, playing volleyball, and having a barbecue. Whatever you do to celebrate, remember to have a great time and remember those who died in service to our nation, even if you disagree with the reasons that they had to die.
Independence Day is celebrated each year on July 4th. Democracy was born on July 4, 1776, when America gained Independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was signed, and America was born. Every year, patriotic folks fly flags, have picnics, and hopefully remember the reasons that we aren’t an English colony anymore.
The most widely recognized Independence Day tradition is the fireworks. From multi-million dollar displays to a child with a sparkler, Americans love fireworks. This tradition began in 1777 when thirteen guns were fired in Bristol, Rhode Island, once in the morning, and once in the evening. Doing this on July 4th began symbolizing memories of the Revolutionary War. From this the lights in the sky, accompanied by the boom of the fireworks, we always remember where we came from. While July 4th is typically symbolized by baseball, beer, and barbecues, this Federal holiday celebrates the one thing we have when it seems like we have nothing: Our freedom.
Whatever way you decide to celebrate two of our patriotic holidays, make sure you play by the rules. Stick close to family, have a great time, and don’t drink and drive.