This Memorial Day I want to honor those men and women who currently serve in our armed forces and to those many who have given their lives for our country. This is a sacrifice that shouldn’t be lost in a three day weekend and barbecues.
Memorial day has many stories about its true beginning. Decoration Day as it was originally called was officially proclaimed such by General John Logan in 1868 and first observed on May 30th by placing flowers on the graves of union and confederate soldiers at Arlington National. In 1873 New York was the first to recognize the holiday and the northern states were soon to follow. The southern states honored their fallen on another day. It wasn’t until after WWI that it became a day of remembrance for of all those who died in Service of America. In 1971 the National Holiday Act by Congress passed setting the holiday to fall on the last Monday in May ensuring the three day weekend we have come to enjoy and perhaps take for granted.
Inspired by the poem Flander’s Fields Moina Michael conceived of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who died serving their country. She was the first to wear one. Selling them to friends and coworkers she raised money to benefit servicemen in need. A Frenchwoman Madame Guerin returning home from the US, inspired by Michaels, made artificial red poppies to raise money in France for war orphans and widows. This practice spread throughout Europe. In 1922 the VFW approached by Madame Guerin began selling poppies made by disabled vets. the poppy becoming a flower of remembrance around the world.
So on this holiday I hope you take a moment and can come together to honor all those who gave their all for your country. In honor of this tradition I leave you with the poem Flanders Fields and my version of Poppy.
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.