The solemnity of Memorial Day is juxtaposed with another kind of celebration: the unofficial start of summer.
Is the true meaning of Memorial Day getting lost in the rush to summer?
A new survey of Affluent investors conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner finds that very few will be participating in Memorial Day observances. Just five percent said they will attend some type of memorial service, while less than 10 percent plan to attend a parade or visit a memorial site.
Half will spend this coming Monday with family and friends. More than one-third will be firing up the long-dormant outdoor grill and 18 percent will take the day to attend to yard work. Almost one-fourth (23 percent) said they will not anything in particular.
The first large observance of what was initially called Decoration Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868, according to the U.S. Department of veterans Affairs. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, established the observance as a time for the nation to decorate the grades of the Civil War dead with flowers. It is believed that the final Monday of May was chosen for the observance because flowers would by then be in bloom.
While many cities in the North and South claim bragging rights, Waterloo, NY was officially declared the “birthplace of Memorial Day” in 1966.
But the solemnity of the day is juxtaposed with another kind of celebration: the unofficial start of summer. Retailers, especially, have jumped on the bandwagon mounting Memorial Day sales to kick off warm weather shopping season.
Americans are more likely to spend the day in the company of family and friends or heralding the start of summer with outdoor activities than they are to participate in some kind of Memorial Day observance. Surprisingly, this extends across all age groups. Respondents to the Millionaire Corner survey who are over 60 are only slightly more likely to attend a memorial service (6 percent), or place flowers on a memorial site (11 percent).
Fireworks have more appeal to those under 40 (10 percent) while Baby Boomers ages 51-60 are the most likely to be in the company of family and friends (55 percent) or a barbeque (43 percent), or doing yard work (22 percent).
Related story: Investors avoid Memorial Day travel
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.