Turn on the TV between now and the end of the month and you’ll see a never-ending montage of thirst- quenching drinks, beach volleyball and sizzling sausages signaling the “unofficial start of summer.” But Memorial Day is much more than a 3-day weekend that welcomes us to a period of warmer weather, and the people whom it honors deserve our unending gratitude for making the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and way of life.

Let’s make no mistake: Memorial Day – America’s most solemn holiday – was established to honor those who have died in military service to the United States. Unfortunately, we as a country pay too little attention to its true meaning. As Veterans and their family members, however, we know too well of its true meaning and honor our fallen comrades with gratitude and respect.

We also know that thanking someone for their service on Memorial Day really misses the purpose of the holiday. Veteran’s Day honors those who have served and left the military, while Armed Forces Day (also observed in May) is a time to recognize our active-duty soldiers, sailors and air personnel.

Although commemorations of fallen soldiers have been recognized since the ancient days of Rome and Greece, Memorial Day in the United States began as “Decoration Day” at the end of the Civil War.

Families were encouraged to visit the graves of their fallen kin and decorate these sites with ribbons and flowers in recognition of their sacrifice and service.

Decoration Day and Memorial Day were used interchangeably throughout the years, but this year – somewhat incredibly – marks just the 50th anniversary of when Memorial Day became an official holiday. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 finally went into effect and officially created the federal Memorial Day national holiday.

That decision hasn’t been without controversy, since before that Memorial Day was always observed on May 30, regardless of which day of the week it fell. Perhaps with some justification, as we’ve seen, proponents of the May 30 observation fear that the original intent to commemorate those who have given their all has been lost in the more opportune notion of a long weekend.

Since 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance has been observed on Memorial Day to help reinforce the sanctity of the holiday. All Americans are encouraged to stop what they’re doing at 3 p.m. local time and observe a moment of silence to honor those who died in service to our country. It’s an important symbol and, after all, the least we can do to give tribute to those brave men and women.

About Kyle Laramie, Founder & CEO

Kyle founded Veterans Care Coordination in April 2011. As its founder and CEO of VCC, Kyle is driven by the memory of his grandfather, a World War II Veteran who unnecessarily missed out on essential VA benefits because Kyle’s family wasn’t aware of available opportunities. In recognition of his impact in leadership, Kyle was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list and St. Louis Small Business Monthly’s “100 St. Louisans to Know” in 2014. VCC was named a St. Louis Small Business Monthly “Top 20” small business and a finalist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch Top Workplace (2015-2022), St. Louis Business Journal Best Place to Work (2019 & 2022), and the Arcus Awards (2014). The team has served more than 14,000 Veteran clients and their families. Kyle frequently speaks on Veterans’ benefits, addressing conferences such as the Home Care Association of America and Decision Health. He is passionate about giving back and has built a charitable-minded organization that supports various philanthropic efforts.