Memorial Day: National Moment Of Remembrance
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And on this Memorial Day, let's reflect on the meaning of the holiday. Carmella LaSpada is a longtime advocate for veterans. Back in 1996, she talked with a group of kids visiting Washington, D.C.
CARMELLA LASPADA: And I said, you know, Memorial Day's next Monday, and I said, do you know what the meaning of Memorial Day is, what it's all about? And that they all looked at each other, and in unison, they said, oh, that's the day the swimming pools open.
MONTAGNE: LaSpada was worried adults were also losing sight of the day's true purpose, to honor those killed while serving in the armed forces. So she asked Congress to establish a National Moment of Remembrance, which it ultimately did. The idea is to stop whatever you are doing for a quiet moment of reflection at 3 p.m. local time.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: As we come to the 3 o'clock hour, all the fans are to their feet. All of the flags have been lowered to half-mast.
MONTAGNE: NASCAR has its drivers pull over mid-race. Major-league baseball pauses its games, and Amtrak trains blow their whistles. For many, it's a more private moment.
HOWARD REITENBAUGH: I am Howard Reitenbaugh, a national coordinator for Bugles Across America.
MONTAGNE: His organization sends buglers to play "Taps" for free at military funerals.
REITENBAUGH: I make sure that prior to 3 p.m., I am on the highest spot in Riverview Cemetery up above Huntington, Pa. And I stand there, and I wait for the church bells to finish peeling the hour at 3. I sound taps. I salute, and I walk away.
MONTAGNE: He says he usually performs this ritual alone, but one year, he noticed a couple watching him.
REITENBAUGH: The lady said, it's a shame there aren't more people to hear that. And I said, well, I really don't do it for the people that might be able to stand here to hear this. I do it for these, and I kind of waved my arm out across, indicating the hundreds of flag-adorned grave markers that were surrounding us.
MONTAGNE: That's Howard Reitenbaugh, one of many who will be marking the National Moment of Remembrance this Memorial Day at 3 o'clock this afternoon, wherever you are.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAPS")
MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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