(WASHINGTON) — Memorial Day Weekend usually conjures up images of backyard parties, beaches and beer.
But Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer. It’s actually been an official national holiday for over 40 years aimed at remembering those who served in the armed forces.
Here is a brief look at the history behind the holiday and how people are expressing the true meaning of Memorial Day through photos on social media.
A few years after the end of the Civil War, May 30 was established as “Declaration Day” — a day to decorates veterans’ graves with flowers. May 30 may have been the selected day because flowers would be in bloom throughout the country, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
In 1971, Memorial Day was officially declared a national holiday and placed on the last Monday in May, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website says.
In December 2000, the president signed into law The National Moment of Remembrance Act.
“The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website says.
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