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Five Facts about Memorial Day that Every American Should Know

Updated: Jul 24

The Memorial Day holiday weekend means the unofficial kick off to summer with a backyard BBQ, a trip to the beach or a day at the park.

But no matter how we spend this Memorial Day weekend, the holiday gives us a chance to remember those who gave their lives serving our country.


Here are five interesting facts to consider while we're celebrating the holiday this weekend.

The federal holiday is observed on the last Monday of May — May 30, 2022, this year.

It was formerly observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970.


1. Congress established an exact moment of remembrance on Memorial Day.

The National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was adopted in December 2000, encourages every citizen to pause each Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time to remember the brave men and women who died in service to our nation.

In addition to any federal observances, Major League Baseball games usually come to a stop during the Moment of Remembrance.

For the past several years, Amtrak engineers have taken up the practice of sounding their horns in unison at precisely 3 p.m. as well.


2. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, we celebrate Memorial Day in late May because that's when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country.

It was Union General John A. Logan who — after serving in the Mexican-American War and Civil War — proposed that Congress institute May 30 as Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) to allow citizens to decorate the graves of deceased veterans with fresh flowers.

It's also believed that Logan settled on the date because it wasn't already the anniversary of any significant battles.


3. The Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade in Ironton, Ohio, is recognized as the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the nation, beginning all the way back in 1868.

However, the oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held a year earlier in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

The oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held in 1867 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

It's also worth noting that both the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., each bill themselves as the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation.



4. "Taps," the bugle call typically performed at military funerals as well as the annual Memorial Day wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was actually adapted from a separate Civil War bugle call known as "Scott Tattoo," which was used to signal lights out.

Yet according to the "Arlington National Cemetery Legacy of Honor" by Jim Harris, as well as "Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America" by Ace Collins, the new melody later became the preferred accompaniment at military funerals after Captain John Tidball of the Union Army ordered his men to quietly play "Taps" at a fellow soldier's funeral.

They do so out of fear that a traditional three-volley rifle salute would alert nearby Confederate troops to their location.


5. For the first time in 20 years, the American Automobile Association (AAA) chose not to release a Memorial Day "travel forecast" in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which "undermined" the accuracy of the annual report, according to AAA.

However, when the organization released its forecast in 2021, it predicted that holiday travel would rebound to more than 37 million.


An estimated 39.2 million people are predicted to travel this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA.


This year, AAA says, some 39.2 million people are predicted to travel at least 50 miles away from home during the unofficial start of summer.


An estimated 34.9 million of those people will be traveling by car, which is an 8% increase compared to the number of Memorial Day travelers in 2021 — which saw 33.4 million people on the road.

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