What will you be doing at 3 p.m. this Memorial Day?Apr 28, 2023 01:38PM ● By Nancy J. Schaaf, RN
Memorial Day brings images of sizzling hamburgers on the grill with a smorgasbord of picnic sides. This last Monday in May marks the end of the school year and the unofficial beginning of summer.
But Memorial Day also serves as an opportunity to reflect as we honor the brave Americans who’ve fought for our freedom. The holiday is a sacred time of remembrance for those who died serving and protecting our country.
Most people know about the origins of the holiday, but not everyone knows about the National Moment of Remembrance—an annual Memorial Day event in which Americans pause for a moment of silence at 3 p.m.
The idea behind these 60 seconds of silent reflection began in May 1996 after a school field trip ignited a nationwide conversation. When a group of schoolchildren touring Washington, DC, were asked what Memorial Day meant, the children answered that the holiday was “the day the pools open.”
During the same month, a Gallup Poll showed that only 28 percent of Americans knew the true meaning behind Memorial Day.
These responses disheartened many people. Four years later, the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance came into existence. Congress declared:
“It is essential to remember and renew the legacy of Memorial Day, which was established in 1828 to pay tribute to individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice to the United States and their families…”
The National Moment of Remembrance is a national act of unity and reflection. This moment of silence gives Americans the opportunity to express their gratitude. More importantly, it reminds us of the lives lost fighting for our nation.
How does this event fit in with your Memorial Day celebrations? The National Moment of Remembrance need not replace parades and picnics. You can observe the moment wherever you are on that day, whether alone or with others.
Participation is entirely voluntary. Wait until the clock strikes 3 p.m. local time. Then stop what you’re doing for one minute. You don’t have to pray or think about anything specific; just remaining silent shows your gratitude.
If you are with family and friends on Memorial Day, ask your group whether they’d like to observe the moment with you. If they don’t know about this, take the time to explain its meaning and purpose.
Spending the moment at the grave of someone you miss dearly can make it much more meaningful. If you live near a military cemetery, you can pay your respects by bringing flowers to the grave of a fallen soldier. If you have a family member, friend or loved one who died in the military, Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance are perfect opportunities to visit.
On this Memorial Day—May 29—may we remember and honor those who sacrificed all for our freedom so that we can enjoy the festivities that mark this unofficial start to summer.