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Memorial Day: New Survey Reveals Less Than Half of U.S. Adults Understand True Meaning of the Holiday
[May 21, 2024]

Memorial Day: New Survey Reveals Less Than Half of U.S. Adults Understand True Meaning of the Holiday


As the nation prepares to observe Memorial Day this year, a new survey sponsored by USAA reveals the lack of understanding about the true meaning of Memorial Day, with many observing the holiday in ways that don't align with the day's true purpose. USAA seeks to help the nation increase its understanding of the holiday while also providing an opportunity to honor and remember America's military men and women who lost their lives in service to their country with its Poppy Wall of Honor.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240521419103/en/

Visitors observe the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor. (Photo: Business Wire)

Visitors observe the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor. (Photo: Business Wire)

According to the USAA survey, conducted by Endeavor Analytics and YouGov, only 46% of U.S. adults properly responded that the primary reason for observing Memorial Day is to honor military service members who lost their lives in military conflict. Further, nearly half of respondents (45%) believe an appropriate way to observe Memorial Day is to wish a veteran a "Happy Memorial Day" and/or thank them for their service. While the intentions are well-meaning, the survey results indicate that we all can benefit from additional education on this sacred holiday.

To help educate, the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor - a temporary installation honoring the more than 600,000 American service members who gave their lives in service to our nation since World War I - will return to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for Memorial Day weekend. Since its first appearance publicly on the National Mall in 2018, more than 50,000 visitors have visited the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor, paying their respects to fallen service members and learning more about the holiday.

"As Americans enjoy their freedoms this holiday weekend surrounded by friends and family, it is important to rememberthe service members who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend those freedoms, which is the true meaning of Memorial Day," said Army Maj. Gen. (Ret) John Richardson, Senior Vice President, Head of Military Affairs at USAA. "The USAA Poppy Wall of Honor is a unifying symbol for all Americans, reminding us of the humbling reality that our freedom isn't free. Through the Wall, we seek to educate and inspire all Americans to take time this Memorial Day weekend to pause, honor and remember each of our fallen service members, and stand by their families who carry the weight of their absence every day."



The Poppy Wall of Honor will be on display May 24 through May 26 on the National Mall at the base of the Lincoln Memorial between the Reflecting Pool and Korean War Memorial. Visitors can expect to see:

  • The Poppy Wall of Honor is 133 feet long and stands 8-1/2 feet tall and contains a two-sided interactive, digital exhibit experience. Visitors will learn more about the true meaning of Memorial Day, the poppy flower and conflicts since WWI.
  • More than 600,000 poppy flowers provided by Veterans of Foreign Wars' Buddy Poppies® and The American Legion's Memorial Poppies fill one side of the wall, representing the lives lost since WWI.
  • This year's Poppy Wall of Honor experience includes new features such as:
    • A 22' wide x 11' tall LED wall enhancement that will immerse visitors in poppy fields and an excerpt from the poem "We Shall Keep The Faith" by Moina Michael. The poem establishes the poppy as a symbol of remembrance before visitors walk along the panels containing more than 600,000 of the red poppy flowers - each representing a life lived and lost in service to our country.
    • A special panel commemorating the 80th anniversary of the U.S. military lives lost during D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy during WWII.
  • Visitors may view the Poppy Wall of Honor during the following days and times:
    • Friday, May 24: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST
    • Saturday, May 25: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST
    • Sunday, May 26: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. EST

To help expand the reach and to educate new and younger audiences, USAA has partnered with influencer @EllieGoldenLife, who will assist in educating Americans about Memorial Day and honoring fallen service members. For those unable to view the exhibits in person, you can contribute to the Memorial Day conversation by honoring a loved one or sharing a remembrance using #PoppyInMemory in your social channels. More details can be found at usaa.com/memorialday.


Survey Methodology

Source: Endeavor Analytics x YouGov Custom Dataset. Online survey among 2,079 U.S. adults ages 18+. Fielded 3/27/2024 - 4/5/2024. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+).

About USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and retirement solutions and serves more than 13.5 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, USAA has offices in eight U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 37,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or X (@usaa), or visit usaa.com.


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