Miami boasts “all the hottest parties and events” for Memorial Day holiday weekend. Las Vegas counters with “a sizzling lineup” of activities.
In Chicago, it’s “Shop ‘Till You Drop” and “Rock On: The Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival,” Atlanta offers the “Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park,” New Orleans presents the “New Orleans Wine and Food Experience” and San Diego the “Pier Pressure Memorial Weekend SD Mega Yacht Party.”
About two million people will attend Major League Baseball games across the country, and millions more will celebrate with barbecues, picnics or concerts or go to the beach, the lake or the mountains. Indeed, AAA Travel estimates that nearly 40 million people – about one in nine Americans – will travel 50 miles or more from home to mark the start of summer and warmer weather ahead.
But with all the fun things to do on Memorial Day weekend, it’s important to remember why we observe the holiday – formerly Decoration Day – in the first place.
“It’s easy to forget what Memorial Day actually means while you’re sitting by the pool and looking ahead at summer vacation, but the day signifies much more than just a three-day weekend,” wrote Tessa Berenson in Why do we celebrate Memorial Day in Time online. “Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces.”
Fortunately most American cities – and many small towns – mark the day with special remembrances, so there should be no shortage of opportunities to pay your respects to these heroes.
One city where you would expect remarkable holiday events is Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.
The Memorial Day National Concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra marks the holiday on Sunday on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn, while the National Memorial Day Parade on Monday draws an audience of around a quarter-million. Then there are wreath-laying ceremonies at the Arlington National Cemetery, the Navy Memorial, World War II Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
“Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally” and the “ride for freedom” draw thousands of participants from across the country to honor POWs and MIAs. Besides the Sunday ride, the rally includes a candlelight vigil and a Sunday evening “Saluting Our Troops” concert near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
But even if you live in Small Town, America, chances are there’s a Memorial Day observance nearby.
And if there isn’t, just take a moment to remember those who sacrificed so much for the freedom that allows us to celebrate the way we choose.