Since much of my workday energy focuses on solar energy (Built Well Solar, your neighborhood solar energy company at your service!), the prospect of free time this long Memorial Day weekend begged the question where will I and my fellow Long Islanders and other Americans focus our energy?
The federal holiday Memorial Day -- the last Monday of May each year -- marks the official start of summer. However, it’s not really about barbecues, shopping or fireworks, it’s actually a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. At the risk of sounding preachy, we should all (myself included) try to spend more time and energy on the true reason for this holiday, in tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
As local North Bellmore veteran Frank Colon often reminds me, freedom isn’t free. It’s paid for with the lives of those who served our country to defend that freedom.
How to truly commemorate this holiday? The hope is that each of us raise or wave a flag, watch or march in a parade (perhaps ), or perhaps decorate the gravesides or at least take a few moments out to think of the heroes who gave their lives for our country.
Consider a few other Memorial Day-related facts and figures:
What do most Americans do on Memorial Day weekend? According to a recent poll by AAA/HIS Global, the most popular activity is visiting friends and relatives (52%), followed by dining (59%) -- barbecuing assumed but not specified here -- and third is shopping (43%).
Last year 81 million Americans said they have taken part in at least one barbecue, according to Mediamark Research & Intelligence, as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Top among the holidays for these dining experiences? Memorial Day and Independence Day, of course.
The Flag Manufacturers Association of America, whose member flag manufacturers ensure that 100% of the materials and labor that make their flags are “Made In the USA,” report 150 million total sales for U.S. flags annually. Most popular holidays for those purchases? You guessed it -- again, July 4th and Memorial Day.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, that is a real organization) estimates Americans eat 7 billion hot dogs during peak season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That's 818 hot dogs per second. How many frankfurters will you polish off this weekend?
About 6.7 million people tuned in to the Indianapolis 500 last year, according to Robert Seidman, “TV By the Numbers,” up 11% in ratings and 16% in television viewership from the previous year. That marked the most-viewed Indianapolis 500 since 2008 (7.245M). Add to that 400,000 plus spectators at the Brickyard itself. How many of us will watch the race this time ‘round …and ‘round?
Getting back to the most important numbers for this weekend then, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports: “Since the birth of the United States of American on July 4, 1776, no single generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending freedom by force of arms. More than 42 million American men and women have served in time of war...more than a million have purchased freedom with their lives.”
Let’s be grateful to them for giving us the freedom to do the simple things we so often take for granted...to shop, barbecue, watch TV and even to wave our flag.