Today... May 30th... used to be the date we observed Memorial Day, the traditional day set aside to honor and remember our war dead. Some history (emphasis mine):
The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington's Birthday, now celebrated as Presidents' Day; Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.
Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m., local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."
The Moment of Remembrance is a step to return the meaning back to the day: set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.
But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date, merely to create three-day weekends, has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
On January 19, 1999, Sen. Dan Inouye introduced Senate Bill 189 that proposed to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30 instead of "the last Monday in May." On April 19, 1999, Rep. Jaret Gibbons introduced House Resolution 1474. The bills were referred to the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Government Reform.
I'm all for reinstating the traditional date for observing Memorial Day, which would be a good beginning for restoring the solemn and sacred spirit of our observance rituals and ceremonies. I don't have anything against barbecues, baseball games, beer drinking or three-day weekends. It's that I'm FOR a special dedicated day... not a generic three day weekend... wherein we honor our war dead. Those that made the ultimate sacrifice deserve no less.
Is that too much to ask?