Memorial Day: one day of remembrance or one 3-day weekend?

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Here in the United States, we’re coming up on Memorial Day: a day of remembrance for everyone who died while fighting for the country. It’s been an official U.S. holiday since 1868, but it wasn’t until 1971 that Congress made it into a 3-day weekend.

The rationale behind the change was to make Memorial Day a holiday that could be celebrated the same time each year, rather than on a specific day. (Just as Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November regardless of the date, so Memorial Day is celebrated on the last weekend in May and not on the date of May 30 as it originally was.) Not everyone in the country was pleased: Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) asserted in 2002. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.

Either way, here’s wishing everyone a happy, restful, and thoughtful holiday.

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