Memorial Day by the Numbers

Across the United States, people are looking forward to a long weekend and buying their BBQ supplies for the unofficial beginning of summer. But let’s not forget to take some time this holiday to think about the men and women who have served this country; in fact, in 2010 an act was passed by Congress making 3:00 PM the official Moment of Remembrance, in which people are encouraged to take a moment of silence.

1868: the year Memorial Day was first celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery; originally known as Decoration Day, it occurred on May 30th.  It wasn’t until 103 years later, 1971, that it was officially declared a national holiday, and set to occur on the last Monday in May.

More than 35.5 million people will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the holiday, according to estimates and numbers from past years; in 2014 the estimated number was 36.1 million. More than 31 million of those traveling will be going by car, while just over 2 million choose to travel by plane. About 1.5 million people will use other forms of transportation, including trains and bicycles.

There are more than 58,000 names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to commemorate American soldiers who died during the conflict; of those, only 8 are women.

There have been over  1.2 million casualties throughout the wars and conflicts in American history, beginning with the Revolutionary War. More than 300,000 of them are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in the nation’s capital. In 2012, there were 220,000 flags placed there in remembrance. The 3rd U.S. Army Infantry (also known as the Old Guard) has been placing flags on soldiers’ graves in Arlington since 1948.

The United States military’s highest honor for valor in action is the Medal of Honor: there have been 3,461 recipients in U.S. history, and 80 are still currently living.


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