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    From the Civil War to Today’s Mattress Sales, Memorial Day Is Full of Contradiction

    From the Civil War to Today's Mattress Sales, Memorial Day Is Full of Contradiction

    , Va. — Memorial Day is supposed to be about mourning the nation's fallen service members, but it's come to anchor the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend of discounts on anything from mattresses to lawn mowers.

    Auto club AAA said in a travel forecast that this holiday weekend could be “one for the record books, especially at airports,” with more than 42 million Americans projected to travel 50 miles (80 kilometers) or more.

    But for Manuel Castañeda Jr., 58, the day will be a quiet one in Durand, Illinois, outside Rockford. He lost his father, a U.S. Marine who served in , in an accident in California while training other Marines in 1966.

    “Memorial Day is very personal,” said Castañeda, who also served in the Marines and National Guard, from which he knew men who died in combat. “It isn't just the specials. It isn't just the barbecue.”

    But he tries not to judge others who spend the holiday differently: “How can I expect them to understand the depth of what I feel when they haven't experienced anything like that?”

    What is the official purpose of Memorial Day?

    It's a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. , according to the Congressional Research Service. The holiday is observed in part by the National Moment of Remembrance, which encourages all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence.

    What are the…

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