Memorial Day at the Beach: A Great American Tradition
by Jessie S.
Although Summer doesn’t actually roll around until June 21st this year, many people feel like Memorial Day is the day that signals the beginning of summer activities, especially since schools all over the country are beginning wrapping up their term by this date. By beach tourism standards? Memorial Day definitely marks the beginning of the busy season! Warm weather, blue skies, ocean waves… what’s not to like? In fact, going to the beach on Memorial Day is a Great American Tradition!
Memorial Day Statistics
According to WalletHub.com, last year, Americans gladly engaged in Memorial Day festivities. Here are some interesting stats:
- Americans spent $1.5 billion on meat and seafood
- Approximately 41.5 million Americans travel – 36.6 million by car
- Most companies/offices close on Memorial Day
In Memory And Honor
With all the travel, cookouts and holiday sales, it’s easy to get caught up in the festive holiday spirit and overlook that Memorial Day is a very important day meant to honor a heroic group of people – men and women who have died while serving for the United States military. As of last year, over 45 million men and women have served in our country's military throughout history and over 1.3 million of these soldiers have lost their lives.
The history of Memorial Day dates back to the 1860s following the end of the Civil War. Due to the outrageously high number of casualties suffered on American soil, it became common practice for small towns to hold tributes and ceremonies, often during the Spring months, in honor of the soldiers who had passed. This tradition soon became a recognized day known as “Decoration Day,” with the first occurring on May 30, 1868 by order of General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic. His order read:
“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
New York was the first state to adopt the holiday and many states quickly followed. By WWI and WWII, Americans had been involved with so many other military conflicts involving large scale fatalities that it became necessary to honor those who had fallen on a unified, national scale. Overtime, “Decoration Day” became known as “Memorial Day” and in 1968, a law called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed by Congress that would declare that the holiday be celebrated on the last Monday in May. Despite some opposition to this change, particularly since it was fueled by the creation of a 3-day weekend, the purpose of the holiday remained the same and the date stuck so two years later, the first “Memorial Day” was officially observed as a federal holiday on Monday, May 31, 1971. In 2000, Congress designated the National Moment of Remembrance which occurs at 3:00 PM (local time) in which we are all asked to take a unified minute to remember our fallen troops.
Today, many Americans carry on the tradition by placing flags and flowers in military cemeteries. Buying a red poppy from a local organization that will serve as a donation or displaying a flag are other ways to properly honor those lost. Regarding the proper way to display a flag at home, the US Department of Veterans Affairs says: “On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.”
Memorial Day on the Outer Banks
If you’re in town for Memorial Day weekend and you’re looking for something fun to do with the whole family, head up to Corolla for the Annual Memorial Day Beach Blast on Sunday, May 24, 2020 from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM. This event takes place in Historic Corolla Park and admission is free! Simply bring money for the many local food and beer vendors who will be on site. Guests are encouraged to bring their beach chairs to relax as they enjoy live music (lineup TBD). Dogs on leashes are welcome!
Need a place to stay? Check out our awesome Corolla vacation rentals so you will be right by the action of the Beach Blast festival!
Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with her awesome cat, Yoji, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure.