Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Monday, May 26, is Memorial Day. The holiday originates with a day of recognition to honor the dead from the Civil War (or War Between the States) and was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890, all northern states observed the holiday with the Southern states refusing to observe the holiday until after World War I when it was changed to honor the dead from all wars. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill which moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

When I was in elementary school, we were asked to sell poppies made by disabled veterans. That poppy program still exists today. The poem that spawned the idea is a stirring reminder of the sacrifices made by our soldiers then and now.

In Flander’s Field

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.

Col. John McCrae

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2 Responses to Memorial Day

  1. Simon Heseltine June 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    The poppy program is exceptionally strong in the UK. Almost everyone in the country buys and wears them for Remembrance day in November.

    Here’s a picture from my visit to Manchester last November – note the Poppy wreaths.

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