Today, the United States celebrates Memorial Day, a day where we remember our veterans and their families who have lost their lives fighting to protect their fellow Americans.
At the same time, we want to remember all of those who have lost their lives to the pandemic and remember those on the frontline and our essential workers around the world.
Memorial Day | Don’t Say Thank You
Memorial Day became a federal holiday only in 1971, but “Decoration Day” had been celebrated since the Civil War to commemorate lives lost in the Civil War. As America became engaged in additional wars, more veterans lost their lives and Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday of May.
“Have a Meaningful Day.”
While the exact origin of Memorial Day is uncertain, records show that the first “Memorial Day” was created by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. Federal records designate Waterloo, New York as the official birthplace of the holiday.
Veterans Day in the United States is similar to Memorial Day in that we acknowledge and celebrate our veterans of war. During Veterans Day, it is appropriate to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice. During Memorial Day, it is appropriate to wish that a veteran have a “meaningful day” as they are likely to be remembering their fallen comrades.
3 PM local time is designated as a National Moment of Remembrance.
Around the world, as the United States approaches 100,000 deaths due to coronavirus, we all pay respects to those we have lost from the pandemic. We also acknowledge and thank the bravery of our frontline workers and essential personnel who risk their health and safety to keep the rest of us safe.
Our frontline workers keep us safe from COVID-19. Our essential workers keep us safe from COVID-19 and keep our communities functioning.
In the United States alone, the number of lives lost to the coronavirus is greater than the number of lives lost during the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined (see chart).
Have a safe and meaningful day.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Virginia and Washington D.C.