Hey guys! Welcome to our ENGLISH BITES – The simplest, easiest and best way to practice your listening – the only one that is 100% created, executed and delivered from me to you – This is Erika Belmonte speaking and I’ll be more than pleased to be here with you guys three times a week and I’m pretty sure we’ll have a great time together – because more than learning and improving your English, I also want you to have some fun through a very exclusive content.
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It is Memorial Day today – a very important day for the Americans. Let’s talk a little bit more about this day today.
Memorial Day is a federal American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military in which more than 620,000 soldiers on both sides died.
As this is a Federal holiday, not only schools and libraries close, most federal and state offices are also closed and there are no mail deliveries on Memorial Day.
As Memorial Day always falls on a Monday, this creates a three-day break known as Memorial Day weekend. The Memorial Day weekend is seen as the unofficial start of summer, and as such, it is a popular holiday enjoyed with outdoor events and picnics. Late May was chosen as the date for Memorial Day as the flowers used to decorate graves would be in full bloom.
It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. It was Union General John A. Logan who called for an official nationwide day of remembrance on May 30, 1868, a date chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of a particular battle.
Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is played at all military funerals and memorial services.
Not long after, the melody was used at a burial for the first time when a battery commander ordered it played in lieu of the customary three rifle volleys over the grave. The battery was so close to enemy lines, and the commander was worried the shots would spark renewed fighting.
And that was not different today when I went to the Memorial Day Service at the Memory Garden Cemetery in Iowa City. It was a very beautiful ceremony with some speeches from veterans, people sang along the National Anthem and also recited the Pledge of Allegiance. You could see American flags everywhere.
Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.
Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials.
This holiday is not one for somber reflection, however. They instead choose to celebrate by enjoying the many freedoms that American servicemen and women have perished protecting. That includes fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, trial by jury, and protection against cruel and unusual punishment. It also extends to relative trivialities such as the ability to save up to 90% with Memorial Day weekend sales or ride roaring Harleys through the nation’s capital. And yes, 60% of them do indeed barbeque each Memorial Day weekend, while 13% take a trip. After all, Memorial Day’s place on the calendar has made it the unofficial start of summer for many.
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