On Monday, May 30, Americans across the country will pause to observe Memorial Day. To learn more about the histories and traditions related to the holiday, read our blog from 2021. Today, we will take a look at what events have returned and what new options there are for those who want to honor and memorialize the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for this country. There are a lot of local traditions to participate in as well as national festivities.
Since 1971, Memorial Day has been celebrated on the last Monday in May. Parades have been a popular tradition and way to honor the occasion. However, due to recent years of COVID-19 restrictions, many local parades were put on pause in the name of public health and safety. For example, the annual Gilroy, CA parade was canceled last year; as their local newspaper puts it, "A holiday like Memorial Day should be a day to bring us together. Unfortunately, we can't safely gather together yet."
Now as Memorial Day 2022 fast approaches, three major cities are hosting parades to remember those who have served. Let's take a look at some of the most popular events happening this year:
- Chicago's Memorial Day Parade
- New York City's Memorial Day Parades – Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan
- National Memorial Day Parade – Washington, D.C.
Visit the birthplace of Memorial Day
While there are many local events that memorialize those who have lost their lives in defense of the country, it may be worth it to take a family vacation to the birth of Memorial Day. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson announced Waterloo, N.Y to be the birthplace of the holiday. The true origin of Memorial Day is debatable, with some arguing that the first true day of memory was 100 years earlier.
Waterloo itself claims that May 5, 1866, was the first day that businesses closed and the fall soldiers recognized with flags flying at half-mast. Not everyone agrees that this was the real first day, but the truth is that Americans have been honoring those who were lost protecting our freedoms.
Regardless, visiting some key sites can be a great way to learn more about the past and honor the fallen soldiers. You can visit other historic landmarks along the way to Waterloo, like Arlington National Cemetery. If you arrive at Waterloo, consider attending some of the Memorial Day events that the town holds.
Wreath Laying Ceremonies and Local Events
If traveling is not on your agenda, you can still participate in local events or even create your own! Many Veteran cemeteries encourage volunteers to help spring clean the area, or lay wreaths and flowers during the weekend of Memorial Day. Call your local town office to find out if there are any organized events your family might be able to lend a hand to. Or ask for permission to help lay flags or flowers where needed.
If your family is planning to attend a local ceremony or event, ask if they need last minute volunteer help. With responsibilities such as helping to place the flags, coordinating volunteers or attendees, and passing out supplies, the gift of helping is the ultimate thank you!
No matter how you choose to celebrate this weekend, stop and find a few moments to honor and thank those who sacrificed their lives to protect the United States of America and keep our great nation safe.