Since earlier this year, we as Americans have celebrated (or will soon be celebrating) holidays that, although may not be recognized on the national level, were implemented by our forefathers in honor of our beloved country and those who fought on its behalf…those who gave their all so that we could live in a “free” society our Veterans. As we approach Independence Day aka the 4th of July, I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the previous patriotic holidays that were recently celebrated leading up to this very notable day. Those I will be discussing include the following:
- Patriot’s Day
- Armed Forces Day
- Memorial Day
- Flag Day
- Independence Day
Let’s start by traveling back in time a few months to April when several states celebrated Patriot’s Day (not to be confused with Patriot Day held on September 11 to mark the terrorist attacks in in 2001). As a native of Massachusetts, I remember how important this day was; however, many Americans haven’t a clue to what it represents and how it was a very significant time in our history. Briefly, in 1775 the British troops invaded our land; however, our boys refused to stand down and fought in two of the most notable battles of the American Revolutionary War – the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Patriot’s Day was established as a state holiday in 1969 and is observed on the third Monday in April. Thanks to Paul Revere and his famous mid-night ride to Lexington to warn the Minutemen of the imminent British invasion (no…not The Beatles) so that they would be prepared for battle. Despite their preparedness, the British were victorious and able to march on to Concord where the Colonists fought back with a vengeance. They were soon joined in battle by the Minutemen, forcing the British to retreat back to Boston. Due to the commitment of the Minutemen, just like we have seen and continue to see from our military today, we were victorious! [On a sad note, we have again shown our strength as Americans by our unity; by not allowing the tragedy of the terrorist attack that killed 3 people and wounded hundreds during the Boston Marathon – an annual tradition on Patriot’s Day. We fought back and justice prevailed.]
Moving on to May celebrations, on August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. This is a day to pay tribute to those men and women who serve in the United States’ armed forces. Those who are honored include members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. This national observance in the United States is on the third Saturday of May each year.
The next national holiday is one that receives a great deal of notoriety – Memorial Day – and is celebrated on the last Monday in May. In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY, “the birthplace” of Memorial Day. However, it should be mentioned that after the Civil War ended in 1868, the day was originally coined “Decoration Day” as it was a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead.
Memorial Day got its start as an event to honor the Union soldiers; however, after World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action…as it should be! To insure that the sacrifices made by our fallen heroes are never forgotten, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act, P.L. 106-679 was passed by Congress. The primary purpose of this was to set aside a time during the day (3:00pm) for reflection by observing a moment of silence.
In June we celebrate Flag Day. According to an article posted by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, “The Origins of Flag Day” the original flag consisted of thirteen alternating red and white and stripes with a circle of thirteen white stars in a blue field. Today, the flag as we know it represents the pride we have in our country. The holiday, however, is like the red-headed step-child among American holidays. There is no media coverage, parades, etc. The good thing that I see is that most American’s are proud of our heritage, our country, and our flag. This is evidenced more and more in sporting events today, along with a number of other venues. The holiday may go somewhat unnoticed, but the flag surely doesn’t. For more information on Flag Day visit
Very soon, we will all be celebrating one of the most important American holidays – Independence Day. According to Wikipedia, independence is defined as “a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty over the territory.” The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday since 1941; however, it origin goes back to the America Revolution – something I touched on while discussing Patriot’s Day. Although many people look at this day as a time for cookouts, fireworks, parades, family gatherings and more it is important to realize that without those men and women who fought (and continue to fight) for our independence and freedom, we would not be celebrating any of these traditions.
In the words of the song made popular by Martina McBride, thank a veteran and “LET FREEDOM RING”!