Today is Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day. I thought I’d share some facts I’ve learned in my research of the day. (information taken from Memorial Day History)
- many states claim the origin of Memorial Day but no one really knows who started it first (even though LBJ declared Waterloo, NY to be the birthplace of the day)
- originally called Decoration Day as a day of remembering those who died in our nation’s service
- women in the south were decorating graves of fallen soldiers before the end of the Civil War
- by 1890 it was officially recognized by all the northern states
- the southern states celebrated their own date for honoring fallen soldiers
- by WWI, both northern and southern states came together to celebrate the same day, as it was now including soldiers from ALL wars, not just the Civil War
- National Holiday Act of 1971 declared Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, although several southern states still have a different day to honor their Confederate War dead
- Moina Michael, inspired by In Flanders Fields, came up with the idea of wearing a red poppy to honor soldiers who have died way back in 1915
- over the years, the traditions of Memorial Day have been forgotten, soldiers graves left undecorated and neglected, neglecting proper flag etiquette (flying at 1/2 mast until noon), thinking this is a day for remembering ALL dead loved ones instead of those who gave their lives in war
- in Dec 2000 the “National Moment of Remembrance” was passed which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” (quoted from Memorial Day History
As your family celebrates this solemn day, remember those who gave their lives to protect yours. Whether you are a pacifist or not, remember and honor those who were willing to fight with “their last ounce of devotion” to protect the rights and freedoms you so dearly cherish and enjoy. From the soldiers of the Revolutionary War all the way to the war today. We can set aside our political differences to give honor to those men and women who sacrificed their all, their very lives, for our sake.
I am generally not a patriotic person. But my father fought in WWII when he was barely 18, was taken captive and survived 4 different POW camps and spent the rest of his life struggling with the physical and emotional tortures he endured. It touched my family very personally. Maybe war has never touched your family in such an intimate way. But we can still teach our children to honor those who fought and died for our country’s sake.