Today is Memorial Day and it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our Nation's service. It was originally called Decoration Day, because of decorating the graves as a way to honor the war dead. The origins of the day are not readily agreed upon, but it is known that groups of Southern women as far back as during the Civil War, were decorating the graves of the Confederate soldiers. Regardless of where the day got its start, the day is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies
In 1915, Moina Michael penned the poem above then she conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.
Madam Guerin, visiting the United States from France, learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and upon returning to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women.
This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.
In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
|Postage stamp honoring Moina Michael|
Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
|3rd US Infantryman placing flags in Arlington Cemetery. Image Source|
|BSA decorating graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery|
|Fredericksburg National Cemetery Luminaria|
|Civil War veteran's resting place near our home in Virginia. Photo taken by me.|
We need to stop and pay, with sincere conviction, our respects for those who died protecting and preserving the freedoms we enjoy, for we owe those honored dead more than we can ever repay.
Today, I remember.