Memorial Day started after the civil war to recognize men and women who have died serving our country, though it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971 celebrated on the last Monday in May. While many Americans still go to the graves of those who have served, or to national memorial sites, plenty more celebrate Memorial Day as the start of summer.
Here in Ocean City a lot of concentration is put on preparing for the crowds we’ll get when Memorial Day comes, because it is the start of the summer season. I had asked Lauren Taylor, owner of the Captain’s Table on 15th street and the boards, about Memorial Day and the start of summer, if changes in the duration of school year had changed the amount of business that comes to Ocean City this time of year.
“I started working here in the 60’s when I was in high school, and nothing has changed,” she said. “Memorial Day was always the biggest weekend, the beginning of the season, and July 4th was the biggest one of the summer, and then Labor Day has always been the traditional end. It used to be because people were in manufacturing, and they got three day weekends and so that was the only time they could go, and now that people travel more, they take more short vacations with fewer long ones, so they like to get away for weekends. Memorial Day has been traditionally when the weather gets a little bit better and everyone’s had cabin fever and they want to get out.”
But while Memorial Day around here has become very much about the business because this is a tourist destination, people do still care about the reason it exists. Plenty of locals have enlisted or have family enlisted. Everyone knows someone who has served, or died for this country. Veterans wear their medals or uniforms, family’s go to the graves of loved ones, or have barbecues or bonfires in honor of them. While it is a summer and celebratory holiday, it is not a forgotten one.
This story originally was published June,6 2016 — Ed.