Memorial Day is May 28th this year. While the day is usually spent barbecuing and enjoying the sun, it's important to remember the real reason for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day originally started as "Decoration Day," in which people would decorate the graves of those who sacrificed their lives in the civil war. As time went on, this was extended to all who gave their lives for our country.
Charles Ives's symphonic poem, Decoration Day, was an example of how he experienced the holiday growing up. Completed in 1912, the beginning is somber and wistful with the remembrance of those lost, with a soft rendition of taps in the middle. The piece then moves onward to a lively march to honor the American Spirit.
"In the early morning of a Memorial Day, a boy is awakened by martial music -- a village band is marching down the street -- and as the strains of Reeves' majestic '[Second] Regiment March' come nearer and nearer -- he seems of a moment translated -- a moment of vivid power comes, a consciousness of material nobility -- an exultant something gleaming with the possibilities of his life -- an assurance that nothing is impossible, and that the whole world lies at his feet."
-- Charles Ives "Essays Before A Sonata" (1919)
So, while you're having fun on your day off and celebrating with family, remember Memorial Day the way it was meant to be: as a way to honor our brave warriors who died for their country and people.