Memorial Day Traditions
Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. US Eastern time. Another tradition is to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers usually place an American flag upon each grave site located in a National Cemetery. Many Americans also use Memorial Day to honor other family members who have died. In Rochester, NY members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for "Buddy Poppies" in the days leading up to Memorial Day designed to act as a visual reminder of those who have sacrificed their lives for the United States. The poppy's significance to Memorial Day is a result of Canadian military physician Lt. Col. John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields".
The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare.
In addition to remembrance, Memorial Day is also used as a time for picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events. One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.
Portions of this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Memorial Day"