"By remembering those who died for our country, we become more aware of our identity as Americans," said Carmella LaSpada, executive director of the White House commission on Remembrance in an interview with American Forces Press Service. "The moment [National Moment of Remembbis a time of remembrance for America's fallen and to make a commitment to give something back to our country in their memory."
Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of soldiers – both Union and Confedrate – at Arlington National Cemetery.
In December 2000, the "National Moment of Remembrance Act" was signed into law and the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance was created to encourage and coordinate commemorations of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance in the United States.
"The goal was to put 'memorial' back in Memorial Day," LaSpada said. Adding that a Gallup Poll revealed that only 28 percent of Americans know the meaning of Memorial Day, she said the National Moment of Remembrance does not replace traditional Memorial Day events. Rather, she said, "We want to encourage people to think about their freedom and give something back to the country.
"If you appreciate what you have and appreciate your freedom, that's a start," she said. "You could help by volunteering with literacy programs, mentoring at schools, trying to make communities better and enhancing what's already out there, for example, with blood donations and organ donations."