In 1911, the first Indy 500 was held on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, which brings many people to Indianapolis every year to cheer on their favorite driver.
Another tradition is the red poppies. In the weeks before Memorial Day, you may see these little artificial flowers being handed out by disabled veterans outside of local grocery stories and other venues in exchange for donations to the VFW. This tradition, which was adopted by the VFW in 1922, is something which always warms my heart.
Over the years, many families have used this holiday to celebrate togetherness – many travel to visit other family members for picnics, barbecues, and short vacations. Others use the time away from work to attend local festivals, water parks, or put on block parties.
Over the years, Memorial Day has become a day to not only mourn fallen soldiers but also non-military family and friends who are no longer with us. I remember when I was a child, on Memorial Day weekend we would get in the car and drive for what seemed like hours to walk up a hill to a small graveyard to visit the graves of family I never knew. I recall it felt like a very special day for my grandparents, so it became a very special day for me also.
On past Memorial Days, I have attended the official ceremony in St. Charles. It’s a really nice event – the St. Charles Municipal Band plays, and a lot is said about those who have fought and continue to fight for our country. When the many veterans who attend stand up when their branch of the military is recognized, it’s usually a pretty emotional moment.
That said, on this Memorial Day, take some time to remember those who are no longer with you. If you are picking up some last-minute items for your celebration today and see a veteran, thank him or her for what they did for our country. And if you are spending the day with family, enjoy your time with them.