What is Memorial Day?
History and Practice
Memorial Day in the United States was conceived a few years after the close of the Civil War as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of those who died in that war. Originally observed only locally, most observances were on a day in May, when flowers would be in bloom. Blossoms, flags and wreaths were used to beautify grave markers. States in the North and South did not recognize their fallen soldiers on the same day until after The First World War, when the meaning of Memorial Day was expanded to honor all those who died in American wars. The last Monday in May became a Federal Holiday through an act of Congress in 1971.
In addition to its official designation as a day of solemn remembrance, in practice Memorial Day can be a festive occasion. It is part of a holiday weekend, signifies the start of the summer season, and is associated with grilling, parades, and concerts.
Observing Memorial Day
The Acts that institute Memorial Day as it exists today, request that the President issue a proclamation calling on Americans and the media to pray for permanent peace in unison during a Moment of Remembrance. American flags should be flown at half staff until noon, after which they should be raised to full height until sundown. The rationale is that the morning is for honoring those lost in war and in the afternoon, living veterans are symbolically recognized by the raising of the flag.
Creative Ideas for Your Business
It can be difficult for a company to show its patriotism and respect for the sacrifice of our fallen Servicemen and women on Memorial Day, because many offices are closed on that day. Below are some things you can do to show that Memorial Day is important to your organization, both to your customers and your employees.
Recognize Family of Employees who Died in Service in American Wars
This can be in the form of an email, a blog post, a ceremony or even something more permanent, like a plaque. You could ask for names, ranks, photos, and possibly a short bio in advance. Don’t get Memorial Day confused with Veterans Day, when all US Military veterans are honored.
Host a Cookout at Work
Instead of the normal lunch break, have a cookout. With just a little planning, your company can show its patriotism, build staff camaraderie, and show employee appreciation at the same time. Even better, invite some of your local customers. A couple recipes follow (Grilled Softshell Crab Sandwiches, Honey Berry Smoothies). Instead of worrying too much about various dietary restrictions, have folks bring something they will eat and have a couple of grills set up for cooking.
Play Patriotic Tunes at Work that Week
If you are able to play music at work, consider playing some patriotic music in the days leading up to Memorial Day. This can help as a reminder of what the holiday is about and to build excitement for the weekend. Spotify playlists and Slacker Radio channels are a couple easy sources for patriotic tunes. Searching for artists like Lee Greenwood or John Philip Sousa will get you started.
Kick it Up a Notch with Promotional Products
Regardless of political leanings, most Americans consider themselves very patriotic. You can show your company’s patriotism with promotional products appropriate for Memorial Day. If you have an event planned before Memorial Day (or Independence or Veterans Days), think about promoting your business and America at the same time. You could choose an American made product, go with red, white, and blue, or incorporate products that are useful at cookouts, parades, or have a patriotic theme. Contact our brand consultants at Identify Yourself for ideas that would work best to fulfill your organization’s goals. Some favorites are listed below. If you don’t see them on our website, that doesn’t mean we can’t get them; give us a call!
USA Mini Basketball
Flashing Tube Bracelets
Patriotic Seed Packet
American Flag Enamel Lapel Pin w/ Logo
American History Calendar
Seed Paper Flag Grow Stake
Blue Visor Hat with Red White & Blue LEDs
Grilled Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches
Here on the Outer Banks, blue crabs start molting their shells around the first full moon in May. By Memorial Day, they should be readily available at your seafood market. While most folks bread and fry or sautee them, they can be perfect for a Memorial Day cookout, thrown right on the grill.
For the tartar sauce:
3/4 cup tartar sauce, homemade or store-bought
grated rind of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 1/4 tsp Old Bay
For the seasoned butter:
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
salt to taste
juice of half a lemon
Tabasco to taste
For the sandwiches:
6-12 soft-shells, cleaned, rinsed, and patted dry
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
12 slices of firm white sandwich bread
Bibb lettuce leaves
1 or 2 tomatoes
1 tbsp Old Bay
oil for the grill
1. Start a gas or charcoal fire. Think med-high to high, direct grilling.
2. Mix together the tartar sauce, juice from half of the lemon, lemon rind, and 1 1/4 tsp Old Bay.
3. Melt the butter with olive oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and shallot. Cook until the garlic and shallot are soft, translucent, but not brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, Tabasco, and remaining lemon juice.
4. When the grill is hot, scrub and oil the grate. Brush the crabs and the onion slices on both sides with some of the flavored butter. Sprinkle a little Old Bay on both sides of the crabs. Grill the soft-shells about 4 minutes on their backs, then turn with tongs and grill about 3 minutes on their bellies. The onions should take about the same amount of time. Baste frequently with the flavored butter while grilling (but save a little for the bread). When done, the shells will turn bright red and be firm and a bit crispy, but don’t overcook. The onions should be just tender. Brush the bread slices with any remaining butter and grill them as well, about 1 minute per side.
5.Serve with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onions.
Honey Berry Smoothies
A frosty libation that is safe for work and kids and just might cut back on the sick days.
2 16 oz. Packages frozen mixed berries
4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
6 tbsp local honey
Blend the berries with the juice on high until smooth, then add the honey and blend well. Serve at once or keep in the refrigerator until needed. Stir before serving.