TIME viral

Watch Chris Pratt and His Son’s Adorable Memorial Day Tribute

They pledge allegiance...

Get patriotic with the Pratt family. Chris Pratt, now on the Jurassic World press tour for which he has already apologized, posted a video to Facebook showing his Pledge of Allegiance duet with his son, Jack. As Pratt recites in front of a flag on a porch, Jack dutifully repeats after him. That “indivisible” is a tough word. The whole thing ends with a handshake.

Pratt acknowledged that the post was a little bit belated: “Meant to post this on #MemorialDay but I was in China and my phone wasn’t working. I’m proud to be American. I’m blessed to get to travel the world! #IPledgeAllegiance

 

 

TIME Accident

3 Children Injured in Bounce House Sent Flying by Waterspout

Accidents in inflatable houses have become increasingly common

Three children were injured Monday in Florida when the bounce house they were in was lifted into the air by a waterspout and carried several feet.

The bounce house, which had been secured to a basketball court, flew above a tree line and across four lanes of traffic, according to police in Fort Lauderdale. The children were dumped out of the bounce house onto the sand shortly after it was airborne. Police later confirmed that two of the children had been released from the hospital with minor fractures while the third was being held overnight for observation. The bounce house had been provided for public use as part of a city Memorial Day event and was properly secured, police said.

MORE: Bounce-House Injuries Become an ‘Epidemic’

Bounce-house injuries among children have grown increasingly frequent in recent decades, as it’s become easier for anyone to buy and set up the inflatable structures. In 2010, about 31 kids per day were sent to the emergency room in the U.S. for inflatable-bouncer-related injuries in the U.S.

TIME White House

Obama Honors Fallen Soldiers on Memorial Day

Marks first Memorial Day since 9/11 without ground troops in combat

President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day to honor the men and women who have died serving in the U.S. military. Their sacrifice, he said, is “a debt we will never repay.”

Speaking in front of more than 5,000 attendees, Obama marked the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the U.S. hasn’t been involved in a major ground war, though a smaller American military presence remains in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This hallowed ground is more than a final resting place of heroes” Obama said. “It is a reflection of America itself. It is a reflection of our history.”

He specifically mentioned Spec. Wyatt Martin and Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Morris, who were the last two U.S. soldiers to die during combat missions in Afghanistan.

“These two men, these two heroes, if you passed them on the street you wouldn’t know that they were brothers,” Obama said. “They were bonded together to secure our liberty and keep us safe.”

More than 6,500 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in military operations that began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Additional reporting by Maya Rhodan

TIME portfolio

See New York’s Beaches and Parks From Above

Tobias Hutzler photographed them from a helicopter

Memorial Day 2015 is upon us—and, with it, the unofficial start of the summer season. In New York City, thousands of people will crowd the five boroughs’ beaches and pools, putting behind them the long winter months and their freezing temperatures.

For German photographer Tobias Hutzler, Memorial Day is the perfect example of what makes New York so attractive. “I’m fascinated by the energy of this city,” he says. “It’s pure life.”

Ever since he moved to New York, Hutzler has been documenting how people interact with the city, often shooting from a ladder or a cherry picker to find a different angle.

A year ago, during Memorial Day, he took to the sky, boarding a helicopter to photograph the city’s parks, pools and beaches. “I’d open the door, strap myself, stand up and lean out so I could shoot straight down,” he tells TIME. “I wanted my images to be very graphic, so I shot around noon when the sun was straight up. There are no shadows, so it’s really about the people — the constellations of people.”

Hutzler’s images are devoid of any distracting landmarks or features, concentrating instead on New Yorkers and how they appropriate these spaces. “I like the abstraction of it,” he says. “It’s not about the iconic places. I’m really interested in the people and the energy. My work is a study of the variety of life, and that’s what makes New York City such a great place: this juxtaposition of colors and people. It’s so beautiful and complex.”

To produce these images, Hutzler partnered with the firm NYonAir, which owns a fleet of helicopters. “The pilots know what I’m looking for, they know the visuals I like,” he says. “To get these images, you have to hover at a certain altitude and at a certain angle. I’m working with a very long lens, and I have heavy stabilizers on the cameras as it can be very shaky.”

Hutzler works fast. His subjects often have no idea he’s there, hanging from a helicopter 300 feet above ground. “It’s a quick shot and we’re already gone,” he says. “It’s like shooting on the streets.”

Tobias Hutzler is a German advertising and editorial photographer based in New York.

Kira Pollack, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Military

Why Do We Celebrate Memorial Day?

This is the real meaning of the holiday

It’s easy to forget what Memorial Day actually means while you’re sitting by the pool and looking ahead at summer vacation—but the day signifies much more than just a three-day weekend.

Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead.

It’s unclear exactly where the holiday originated—Charleston, S.C., Waterloo, N.Y., Columbus, Ga. and other towns all claim to be the birthplace of the holiday. The event in Charleston that may have precipitated the holiday offers poignant evidence of a country struggling to rebuild itself after a bloody war: 257 Union soldiers died in prison in Charleston during the Civil War and were buried in unmarked graves, and the town’s black residents organized a May Day ceremony in which they landscaped a burial ground to properly honor the soldiers.

In the years following the Civil War, Memorial Day celebrations were scattered and, perhaps unsurprisingly, took root differently in the North and South. It wasn’t until after World War II that the holiday gained a strong following and national identity, and it wasn’t officially named Memorial Day until 1967.

The final event that cemented the modern culture of Memorial Day in America was in 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act, designating Memorial Day as the last Monday in May rather than May 30, as it had previously been observed. This ensured a three-day weekend and gave the day its current status as the unofficial beginning of summer, mixing serious reflection with more lighthearted fun.

TIME Holidays

How Countries Around the World Celebrate Memorial Day

Beyond hot dogs

Americans will break out the flags, hot dogs and red, white and blue apparel to celebrate Memorial Day on Monday. But while they aren’t all on the same date, countries around the world have their own days and traditions to commemorate fallen soldiers.

Here’s how five other nations celebrate their versions of Memorial Day.

Australia and New Zealand—Anzac Day

Anzac Day, April 25, is the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the World War I. The day begins with commemorative services at dawn, followed by marches of former military men and women. People also play two-up on Anzac Day, a gambling game that involves betting on which way pennies will land on the table that was often played by Australian soldiers in World War I.

The Netherlands—Dodenherdenking

Dodenherdenking, which means “remembrance of the dead” in Dutch, is held every year on May 4, and celebrates all civilians and military members from the Netherlands who have died in conflicts since World War II. The main ceremony of the day is observed in Amsterdam at the National Monument on Dam Square, attended by the royal family. At 8 p.m., two minutes of silence are observed throughout the country; even public transportation is halted.

England—Remembrance Day

Celebrated on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day marks the end of fighting in World War I. It is celebrated throughout the British Commonwealth, but in England, the British Royal Family assembles outside for two minutes of silence beginning at 11 a.m. Poppies have become the symbol of the day in England; wreaths of them are laid at war memorials and small artificial ones are worn on clothing.

Belgium—Armistice Day

Belgium also celebrates the end of World War I on Nov. 11. The nation holds a Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres. The Last Post was a bugle call played by armies to mark the end of the day, and it is now used by the country to remember fallen soldiers. At the end of the ceremony, people lay wreaths of poppies and the flowers are released from the top of the gate.

Germany—Volkstrauertag

After a brief period when the Nazi propaganda machine changed Germany’s day of remembrance to a day of hero worship, the nation went back to celebrating Volkstrauertag as a solemn honoring of the dead. Celebrated on whichever Sunday falls closest to Nov. 16, on Volkstrauertag the President of Germany gives a speech alongside the Chancellor, the cabinet and the diplomatic corps. The national anthem and the song “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden” (“I had a comrade”) are played in the national ceremony, and in local provinces veterans often march from their churches to war memorials.

TIME remembrance

See 228,000 Flags Planted for Memorial Day in 1 Minute

The ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery took over 1,000 soldiers 4 hours to complete

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the distinguished Old Guard, honors the nation’s fallen soldiers each year by planting more than 228,000 American flags at every grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The annual “Flags-In” ceremony echoes the origins of Memorial Day traditions, when both Confederate and Union soldiers decorated the graves of their fallen compatriots after the Civil War. The Old Guard has conducted this tradition yearly since 1948.

TIME contributing photographer Brooks Kraft captured this year’s ceremony on Thursday. More than 1,000 soldiers participated in the ritual over a span of four hours at the sprawling Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.

TIME Veterans

How to Preserve America’s War Stories Before It’s Too Late

Dennis Martin
Dennis Keith Martin Collection / Library of Congress / Veterans History Project Dennis Martin seated, in Vietnam, ca. 1970

The Library of Congress is collecting the country's first-hand accounts of war

On June 19, 1970, Dennis Keith Martin, a U.S. Army Corporal stationed in Vietnam, wrote a letter to his grandparents. “We are hearing a lot of rumors that the 25th Division or at least part of it will be the next to be withdrawn,” he wrote, at the close of the two-page note. “We are all hoping to be involved in it but I am certainly not going to hold my breath.”

Martin was killed in action that July. Monday will be the 44th Memorial Day since then. But his letters and photographs, like the one seen here, are very much alive.

That’s because Martin’s sister, Barbara, donated them to the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which has made them available online. The VHP was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000. In the 15 years since, the project has collected nearly 100,000 oral histories from veterans and their families, as well as the families of those remembered each Memorial Day. More than 15,000 of those stories and documents, the first-hand accounts of conflicts from World War I to the present day, can be accessed online.

“I feel like my brother’s experience, like so many other thousands, millions, of people in warfare—it’s such a great loss, and what for? Seeing his letters there it gives some meaning to what happened,” Barbara Martin, who is now a musician in Waynesboro, Va., says. “I think that a lot of times people have a skewed viewpoint of what war really is. I think anything that can show people this is what it really is, this is the horror of it, this is the reality of it, is a very good thing.”

The VHP has done just that for people like Hetal Shah.

Shah is a 19-year-old college student in Aliso Viejo, Calif., who has been volunteering to collect oral histories for the VHP since she was 15. (Anyone can do those interviews, by downloading the how-to kit from the Library of Congress). The very first interview she did for the project was with a World War II vet who told a story of deciding not to shoot a hungry Japanese man despite orders to shoot the enemy on sight.

“When he was saying this story he was crying, not because of the man’s situation but rather because he disobeyed the orders of his commander,” Shah recalls. “That’s when it really hit me how complex war is for soldiers and all the people involved. He mentioned his family and all the struggles they faced while he was away. It made war more complex for me and it gave me all of these different perspectives that I could never learn from my history class.”

Shah has come to see her VHP interviews as something of an urgent mission. The stories of World War I that have made it to the VHP have done so through family members, the same way the stories of men and women like Dennis Martin, who were killed in action, got there. But those veterans who made it home from war are full of stories that have yet to be collected.

“I’ll never get to hear the story of a World War I veteran from his or her point of view. We lose that every time that veteran passes on, we lose their stories with them,” she says. “If veterans are not interviewed before they pass on then no one else will be able to get that same perspective and story from them. It’s very important for us to continue doing this project so that everybody, no matter when it was in history, can know how it really was.”

Her message is exactly what the VHP’s backers hope the project offers. “It’s a resource for the country in the sense that it gives us a way of tying into and understanding the experiences of Veterans, as we think about the country, as we think about the future, and as we think about future military engagements,” says William “Bro” Adams, who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities—which is partnering with the Library of Congress to encourage veterans and the families of those killed in action to get involved with the project—and also a Vietnam veteran whose own stories are now part of the VHP archive. “These kinds of stories really give you a sense of things that no other form of recollection can give you.”

TIME apps

Google Maps Just Got Way Better

Traffic on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
Tim McCaig—Getty Images A traffic jam on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Improved traffic data could make driving less of a nightmare this holiday weekend

Google is rolling out some new improvements to Maps in time for the traffic-heavy Memorial Day weekend. Users will be able to get more details about traffic conditions after entering a route.

For example, Maps might inform you that you are approaching construction and give an estimate for how long you might be stuck in a traffic jam. If the route is all clear, Maps will tell you that too. The app already helped users find alternate routes when dealing with heavy traffic, but it will be clearer in explaining why an alternate route is faster and the kind of incident you’ll be avoiding by following it.

Google also revealed the top trending search terms from last year’s Memorial Day weekend to give a sense of the most popular activities during the holiday. Beaches were unsurprisingly led the list of locations, followed by cemeteries and restaurants.

MONEY Leisure

Summer is Coming: Memorial Day by the Numbers

More than 37 million Americans will hit the road to celebrate the start of summer and hot dog-eating season.

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