#GoSilent on Memorial Day 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016 3 Comments
Honoring Memorial Day
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the What Kind of World Series
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
~ John McCrae, May 1915
How do YOU relate to Memorial Day?
For many fortunate people – 80% of us, according to a poll taken by the National World War II Museum — Memorial Day is little more than the official beginning of summer. It’s the day we get our barbeques and lawn furniture out of storage to picnic with family and friends until our Labor Day parties mark summer’s end.
One of the longest-standing events that many will attend this year is the Indianapolis 500, held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
And still . . .
For too many other Americans, however, Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the day they honor that other day – the one that changed their lives forever – a day of remembrance when they hope that the deaths of their loved ones will never be forgotten, and when they pray that their fathers, husbands, uncles, nephews, sons and grandsons did not die in vain.
It is the one day set aside for all of us to honor and remember, as a nation, the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
It happens every year on the last Monday of May
May 30th in 2016
Many people will take time to visit cemeteries and memorials around the county to honor the loved ones of others who have given their lives in military service, as well as anyone they know personally who has made the ultimate sacrifice.
Various groups of volunteers will visit national cemeteries to place American flags on soldiers’ graves.
Cities and townships across the nation will hold stately parades led by marching bands, often including Army jeeps and other military vehicles, antique as well as current. The National Guard is often featured in those parades, along with Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard — active servicemen and women marching alongside veterans of all ages, in uniforms representing many too many wars and even more fallen soldiers.
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Memorial Day has long been a day of remembrance – since 1868, in fact – although it was not always known by that name or honored on the same date. It originated as Decoration Day, put in place after the American Civil War. It has an interesting history of development on its way to the Memorial Day we know today. As it evolved in America, certain traditions became standard practices.
Related Post: Still a War Between the States
In front of United States federal buildings and national monuments, the flag of the United States is quickly raised to the top of its staff before it is lowered to half-mast until noon, occasionally accompanied by a solemn bugle playing Taps.
At noon it is energetically raised to the top of the pole. The Wikipedia article about Memorial Day describes the reasoning behind this tradition beautifully:
The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
If you happen to live close enough to the west lawn of the American Capitol building, at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 29, you can see and hear the National Memorial Day Concert live and in-person. This year, in addition to the National Symphony Orchestra, the concert features actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, along with a number of other guest artists.
For those who live nowhere near Washington, D.C., the concert will be aired live on PBS from 8-9:30 p.m., with a repeat broadcast from 9:30-11 p.m.
On Monday, The National Memorial Day Parade, an annual tradition sponsored by the World War II Veterans Committee, begins at two in the afternoon. Along with helium-filled star and flag balloons and patriotic floats, this year’s parade will feature more than 40 military, high school and college bands from across the United States.
U.S. service members around the world will be able to see it as it is televised live on The Pentagon Channel. Ceremonies and musical performances will also be held at the National Archives immediately before (at 1 p.m.).
- Also on Sunday, the annual Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally leaves from the Pentagon at 12 p.m, with speakers and a musical tribute at 1:30 p.m. at the Reflecting Pool across from The Lincoln Memorial. Thousands of motorcycles ride through Washington in a demonstration of solidarity and support, seeking to improve veteran benefits and resolve POW/MIA issues.
- At 10 a.m. The Buffalo Thunder Memorial Motorcycle Ride will begin nearby in the Sears parking lot (2101 Brightseat Rd., Hyattsville, Maryland), ending at the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum.
- A great many other memorial ceremonies and concerts are scheduled in D.C. and surrounds – many of which can be learned about on the ABOUT Travel site.
Pausing to Reflect
In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. It was signed by President Bill Clinton, 42nd U.S. President, on December 28, 2000. Central to the Act is the request for the American public to stop whatever they are doing for one minute, calling for a national moment of silence at 3:00 P.M. to honor and remember.
That particular time was chosen, in each individual’s local time zone, because that’s when it’s most likely that the majority of Americans will be most enjoying the freedom that those who died in service of their country made possible.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Of America [IAVA] are asking for a second moment of silence – the fifth annual #GoSilent campaign, encouraging Americans to pledge a full minute of silence together – at 12:01 p.m. ET.
According to their website, IAVA, founded in 2004 by an IRAQ Veteran, is the most diverse and rapidly growing veterans group in America. They encourage ALL Americans to take the #GoSilent pledge at iava.org/go-silent.
The Remembrance Poppy
Inspired by “In Flanders Fields” – the *World War I* poem excerpted at the top of this post – you’ll sometimes see artificial poppies worn on lapels in various cities across the United States. *(1914–1918)*
Remembrance Poppies are most common in the UK and Canada, however, where you will also see poppy wreaths decorating war memorials to commemorate their servicemen and women killed in all conflicts since 1914.
If you’d like to honor the fallen by wearing a Remembrance Poppy, it’s not necessary to buy some “official version” – although you will be able to find various types of them for sale. (Most American Legion halls will be selling Poppies to raise money for veteran causes supported by their particular lodges.) However, anyone with a bit of red paper and a black permanent marker could easily craft their own version suitable for the day – and it might even be more meaningful if you do.
On Memorial Day 2016
Whatever else you end up doing this Memorial Day, and whichever moment of silence you choose to observe, I hope you WILL take a moment to think about what it takes to really protect life within our borders.
Ask yourself, as you stop to reflect silently, why America doesn’t provide more assistance and support for Veterans who DO return from combat – and what you might find time to do to change that sorry state of affairs.
I also hope you will take a bit of time to investigate some of the veteran information and support links provided below, in the right sidebar, and listed as Related Content at the bottom of other articles I have written supporting the men and women of our Armed Forces (linked below).
I wish you PEACE.
This Memorial Day, don’t forget to Honor the Fallen
National Moment of Silence to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice
This Memorial Day at 12:01 PM EDT
Take the Pledge HERE and they’ll send you a reminder
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- MEMORIAL DAY 2016 – TIME & REMEMBERANCE
- The Story of the Flanders Fields Remembrance Day Poppy
- Happy Memorial Day, but Please Remember …
- Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America (IAVA)
- The True Meaning of Memorial Day (IAVA)
- Don’t Forget the National Moment of Remembrance
- The One Thing I Would Ask You To Do This Memorial Day
- Little Known Black History Fact: Memorial Day First Recognized by Blacks in Charleston, SC