(CTN News) – Memorial Day is meant to commemorate fallen military members. However, it has also represented the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend filled with discounts on a variety of products, from mattresses to lawn mowers.
According to AAA, 42 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend. There’s already a record number of air travelers.
It is a quiet day in Durand, Illinois, outside Rockford, for Manuel Castaeda Jr., 58. In 1966, while training other Marines, his father, a Vietnam veteran, was killed in an accident.
Memorial Day has an official purpose, right?
According to the Congressional Research Service, it’s a day of reflection and remembrance for those who died while serving. The National Moment of Remembrance is part of the holiday, which encourages people to pause at 3 p.m. and remember.
What’s your take on Memorial Day?
Holidays have always drifted from their original meaning.
The New York Times wrote in 1869 that if the holiday focused more on dinners, pomp and oratory, it would become “sacrilegious.”
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass feared Americans were forgetting the Civil War’s impetus when he spoke at Arlington National Cemetery on Decoration Day in 1871.
Douglass said, “We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flew between the nation and its destroyers.”
Ben Railton, a professor at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, said his concerns were well-founded. Railton says that even though about 180,000 Black men served in the Union Army, the holiday has essentially become “white Memorial Day” in many communities.
Afterwards, how the nation’s elected officials spent the day could draw scrutiny for years. People were appalled when Grover Cleveland went fishing in the 1880s, said emeritus history professor Matthew Dennis.
The Indianapolis 500 held its first race on May 30, 1911, drawing 85,000 people. The Associated Press didn’t mention the holiday or any controversy.
What’s changed about Memorial Day?
On Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice Day marked the end of World War I, which diminished Memorial Day’s power. By 1938, Armistice Day was a national holiday. In 1954, it became Veterans Day.
Memorial Day was moved from May 30th to the last Monday of May in 1971 by an act of Congress. According to Dennis, Memorial Day has long been transformed into a more general remembrance of the dead as well as a leisure day.
According to Time Magazine, the holiday has become a three-day hootenanny that’s lost a lot of its meaning.
Is Memorial Day all about sales and travel?
During the 19th century, grave ceremonies were followed by picnics and foot races, Dennis said.
The holiday evolved alongside baseball and the automobile, the five-day work week and summer vacation, according to a 2002 book, “A History of Memorial Day: Unity, Discord and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Around the mid-20th century, a few businesses opened defiantly on Memorial Day.
Richard Harmond and Thomas Curran wrote that as soon as the holiday was moved to Monday, “the traditional barriers to doing business crumbled.”.
Memorial Day sales and travel are deeply ingrained in our culture. According to AAA, 2.7 million people will travel this weekend for the unofficial start of summer compared to last year.
There were 2.66 million people screened at airport checkpoints on Thursday, about 2,500 more than last Friday, and the most since the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019. In the holiday travel period, the FAA predicted that Thursday would be the busiest day, with more than 51,000 flights.
Redman, 48, a retired Navy SEAL who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he’ll think about friends he lost. His arm is tattooed with thirty names “for every guy I knew who died.