The general definition of the word, “Holiday” is: A day on which one is exempt from work, specifically: a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event.
It is customary to give good wishes to another upon the occasion of holiday festivities.
However, Memorial Day was never intended as a day for festive activities, rather a day to commemorate and honor those who gave their lives for their country. This day was originally known as Decoration Day, when citizens decorated the graves of fallen soldiers in order to honor the war dead. (Civil War era, 1860s)
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Congress, in its infinite wisdom (sarcasm intended), passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays. Over the years hence, traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Who among us remembers the little red “Buddy” Poppy we used to pin on our lapels?
Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day, which is: Fly the colors at half staff until noon, then raise to top staff.
In my opinion, it is completely proper to enjoy the three-day weekend with outings, picnics, camping, fishing, etc. With that in mind, I feel it is incumbent upon the older generation of Americans to remind and/or educate our youth of the meaning of this day and its traditions. Think of it this way: the US flag is flown half staff for the first half-day – in mourning. And then it is raised to top staff to signify a new day.
Enjoy your three day weekend, but, take a moment to remember those who made the supreme sacrifice so that you would have this holiday.