(NEXSTAR) – Americans throughout the country will be thinking of the nation’s fallen service members this Memorial Day, but U.S. citizens are also encouraged to observe an official “Moment of Remembrance” at precisely 3 p.m.
The National Moment of Remembrance, first observed in 1997 and officially established by an act of Congress in 2000, was enacted to inspire all Americans — “wherever they happen to be” — to voluntarily pause a moment of silence (or listen to a rendition of “Taps”) at 3 p.m. local time. The idea, according to archived documents, was to establish a new “American tradition” as a reminder of the meaning behind Memorial Day.
Major League Baseball, in particular, got in on the act fairly early, having observed the National Moment of Remembrance for 26 years as of Monday.
“Each year on Memorial Day, MLB and its clubs observe a solemn pause through the National Moment of Remembrance,” the MLB confirmed in a news release issued ahead of its 25th observance in 2022.
“In-game action and pregame activities will pause to observe an extended moment of silence, and clubs not in action at 3 p.m. local time will observe a brief moment of silence prior to the national anthem before their respective games.”
On-field players, coaches and umpires will also be wearing red poppies — a flower widely regarded as a symbol of remembrance since WWI.
In addition to the MLB, NASCAR traditionally observes the National Moment of Remembrance during its major events on Memorial Day weekend, albeit not always at the same moment. (This year, NASCAR is observing the Moment of Remembrance on Sunday, after Stage 2 of the Coke 600, a spokesperson confirmed.) Amtrak, too, has historically had its engineers blare the trains’ horns at 3 p.m. in observance of the moment, though a representative tells Nexstar there are no company-wide plans to do so in 2023.
The catalyst for the National Moment of Remembrance, interestingly enough, came about in May 1996 after a group of schoolchildren on a tour of Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., were asked what Memorial Day means to them.
“That’s the day the pools open,” the kids allegedly responded, according to a White House fact sheet.
Soon afterward, a humanitarian group known as No Greater Love made it part of their mission to spearhead efforts for a national “moment” of observation — an idea the government soon embraced.
“A National Moment of Remembrance and other commemorative events are needed to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be,” wrote Congress when establishing the Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance in 2000.
As for the timing of the moment, the White House said 3 p.m. was deemed to be “a time of day when most Americans are likely making the most of the freedoms we enjoy” — be it a baseball game, a NASCAR event, or any other pursuit of American happiness.