Vail Daily column: What does Memorial Day mean to you? |

Vail Daily column: What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Richard tenBraakVail ChamberVail, CO Colorado

It seems to me that Memorial Day weekend has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. To most, it’s the kick-off of summer, be it with friends or family, a backyard barbecue, a camping trip or – coming from New Jersey – the start of trips to the shore (I used to go long before there was a Snooki). It was a time to be busy, doing something other than work and hopefully having a good time doing it.Doing what you will over Memorial Day is all well and good, but we must remember that Memorial Day is really about those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. In visiting the website, I would like to share some interesting information that I came across:• The beginning of Memorial Day (then Decoration Day) is actually not exactly known. Its roots can be traced back to as far as 1867, at which time during the Civil War women of the South would decorate the graves of the Confederate dead.• It’s more likely that it had many separate beginnings. It’s believed that around the 1860s, towns had planned or spontaneous gatherings of people to honor the war dead.• Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.• The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873, and recognized by all of the northern states by 1890.• It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971) to ensure a federal three-day weekend.• In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. • Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later, their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948, the U.S. Post Office honored Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red three-cent stamp with her likeness on it. • Since the late ’50s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.• On Jan. 19, 1999, Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Jim Gibbons introduced a bill which proposed to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30 instead of “the last Monday in May.” To date there has been no further development on the bill.• 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.'” So, what will you be doing, or better yet, how will you remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day? Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the VCBA weekly e-newsletter, all you need to do is email us at to start receiving it.The Vail Chamber & Business Association is the leading business advocacy group in Vail and is a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber and Business Association and what we have to offer to business in and that do business in Vail, please contact us at 970-477-0075 or email Based in Vail Village, our office is located on the top level of the Vail transportation center, stop by and say hello!Richard tenBraak is executive director for the Vail Chamber & Business Association