The Memorial Day holiday weekend is typically a great reason for people to kickstart their summer with a backyard BBQ, a trip to the beach or a day at the park.
Americans from coast to coast will especially relish some downtime and relaxation this year after struggling in recent times with the coronavirus pandemic, higher crime, economic challenges and very high prices — including for food and for gas — to name just a few issues.
Yet no matter what we do this Memorial Day weekend and on Memorial Day itself, the holiday offers a chance for the solemn remembrance of those who served our country and are no longer here on Earth with us but who are forever in our hearts.
Here are five fascinating facts to consider while we’re celebrating the holiday this weekend.
The federal holiday is observed on the last Monday of May — May 30, 2022, this year.
It was formerly observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970.
A girl reacts in front of a headstone during Memorial Day as visitors honor veterans and those lost in war at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on May 31, 2021.
(REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy)
1. Congress established an exact moment of remembrance on Memorial Day.
The National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was adopted in December 2000, encourages every citizen to pause each Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time to remember the brave men and women who died in service to our nation.
In addition to any federal observances, Major League Baseball games usually come to a stop during the Moment of Remembrance.
For the past several years, Amtrak engineers have taken up the practice of sounding their horns in unison at precisely 3 p.m. as well.
Veterans march on the street on May 27, 2019, during the 152nd Memorial Day Parade in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The Kings County Parade is one of the oldest Memorial Day Parades in the nation.
(Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)
2. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that Memorial Day is celebrated in late May because that’s when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country.
It was Union General John A. Logan who — after serving in the Mexican-American War and Civil War — proposed that Congress institute May 30 as Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) to allow citizens to decorate the graves of deceased veterans with fresh flowers.
It’s also believed that Logan settled on the date because it wasn’t already the anniversary of any significant battles, according to History.com.
Beautiful collection of flowers shown here. The Department of Veterans Affairs says that Memorial Day is celebrated in late May because that’s when flowers are likely to be blooming across the country
(Stephanie Bennett/Fox News)
3. The Ironton-Lawrence Memorial Day Parade in Ironton, Ohio, is recognized as the oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade in the nation, beginning all the way back in 1868.
However, the oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held a year earlier in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
The oldest (and first) Memorial Day parade in the country was held in 1867 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
It’s also worth noting that both the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade in Queens, N.Y., each bill themselves as the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation.
4. “Taps,” the bugle call typically performed at military funerals as well as the annual Memorial Day wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was actually adapted from a separate Civil War bugle call known as “Scott Tattoo,” which was used to signal lights out.
A young boy salutes after placing a flower during a commemorative event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
(Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images)
Yet according to the “Arlington National Cemetery Legacy of Honor” by Jim Harris, as well as “Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America” by Ace Collins, the new melody later became the preferred accompaniment at military funerals after Captain John Tidball of the Union Army ordered his men to quietly play “Taps” at a fellow soldier’s funeral.
They do so out of fear that a traditional three-volley rifle salute would alert nearby Confederate troops to their location.
On Memorial Day, a young American pauses to honor the deceased.
5. For the first time in 20 years, the American Automobile Association (AAA) chose not to release a Memorial Day “travel forecast” in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which “undermined” the accuracy of the annual report, according to AAA.
However, when the organization released its forecast in 2021, it predicted that holiday travel would rebound to more than 37 million.
An estimated 39.2 million people are predicted to travel this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA.
This year, according to AAA, some 39.2 million people are predicted to travel at least 50 miles away from home during the unofficial start of summer.
An estimated 34.9 million of those people will be traveling by car, the group said.
That’s more than an 8% increase compared to the number of Memorial Day travelers in 2021 — which saw 33.4 million people on the road.
Michael Bartiromo contributed reporting to this article.
Maureen Mackey is managing editor of lifestyle for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent on Twitter at @maurmack.