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Most Americans Have No Idea Why We Celebrate Memorial Day

Less than half of Americans know the true meaning behind Memorial Day, according to a new survey. The survey of 2,000 Americans revealed just 43% were aware it’s a holiday honoring those who died in service while in the U.S. Armed Forces. 28% mistakenly believed Memorial Day was a holiday honoring all military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces – which is Veterans Day. A third of respondents (36%) admitted to being unsure of the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the University of Phoenix, the survey tested Americans on their knowledge of the upcoming holiday, which, this year, falls on Monday, May 25th. Among the findings:

  • Less than half (46%) of respondents knew Memorial Day celebration is on the last Monday of May.
  • 21% believed Memorial Day falls on the last Sunday of May.
  • When asked about the Moment of Remembrance, half hadn’t heard of it. It is when Americans pause for a minute to remember those who have died in U.S. military service.
  • But a third of respondents (35%) were able to select the correct time for when it takes place – 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.
  • Half of Americans polled had also not heard the term “Gold Star family,” – which is a family who has lost a loved one in military service.
  • Once explained, 55% of respondents said they planned to do something kind for a Gold Star family this Memorial Day.
  • Even though there’s some confusion about the holiday, 83% of Americans believe it’s essential to do something to commemorate Memorial Day.
  • 87% of respondents said we should be doing more to honor both living veterans and those who died serving. And the survey found 76% believe Memorial Day should transcend politics.
  • While 79% of respondents said their plans for Memorial Day would be different from the current travel restrictions, 78% said they have an opportunity to be more reflective this year.

How do respondents plan to celebrate Memorial Day this year?

  • Fly a flag: 43%
  • Leave a flag or flowers on the grave of deceased U.S. Armed Forces member: 30%
  • Attend a local ceremony or patriotic event: 30%
  • Fly a flag at half-mast: 29%
  • Visit a military monument or war memorial monument: 27%
  • Educate my children about the meaning of Memorial Day: 25%
  • Wear a Memorial Day button: 24%
  • Aid a family who lost someone serving in the U.S. Armed Forces: 22%
  • Educate me about the meaning of Memorial Day: 22%
  • How are respondents thanking a veteran on Memorial Day?
  • An in-person “thank you”: 48%
  • A text or email: 35%
  • A social media post: 35%
  • A handwritten note: 29%
  • A phone call: 29%
  • A video call: 27%