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Five Things to Remember on Memorial Day

May 21, 2012

Nick Drake
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, Drexel’s Coordinator of Health, Fitness and Wellness Nick Drake offers the University Community a few tips to keep in mind in honor of those who have fought and died for their country. It is their bravery and sacrifice that has allowed us to celebrate this holiday with those we love.

Understand the Meaning of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May to commemorate U.S. men and women who have died in military service. Memorial Day was first called “Decoration Day” because of the practice of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers. It’s a tradition that dates back to the Civil War. Through the years, the holiday has evolved and dates have changed, but one thing remains: It is a day to remember and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Formal Observance of Memorial Day
Here are a few ways that you can formally observe Memorial Day. At 3 p.m., all Americans should pause for a moment of silence. This is referred to as the National Moment of Remembrance. It is also a good time to listen to “Taps” in remembrance. Visit cemeteries and place flags and flowers on the graves of Veterans. Use this day to visit a memorial or attend a parade to honor our fallen heroes. Another tradition includes wearing red poppies, which are symbolic of bravery and valor. As the story goes, the wearing of red poppies was inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrea.

Informal Observance of Memorial Day
Memorial Day serves as the unofficial kick-off to the summer season. May is a month of celebrations and accomplishments. It is the season of graduations from high school and college and people begin to flock outdoors. Use this weekend to enjoy time with family and friends.

Memorial Day has its Customs
It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. Flying a flag at half-staff or half-mast is a symbol of mourning.

Thank a Veteran or a Family Member of a Veteran
Take the opportunity to thank a veteran for his or her service to this country. It is also important to remember the family members of these veterans as many of them sacrifice so much.

Nick Drake serves as the coordinator of health, fitness and wellness for Drexel’s Department of Athletics. He is a faculty/staff advisor for the Drexel Veterans Association, and a member of the Veterans Task Force and the Veterans Program Planning Group.

He served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, was deployed and served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (2003-04). He is also an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.