Monday, May 25, 2009
MEMORIAL DAY - the history behind the day
The purpose of all war is ultimately peace.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It began as a day to remember the men who died in service to our nation.
Many stories exist about how the celebration began. Over two dozen cities and towns lay claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.
But before the day was proclaimed a National Holiday, women's groups were decorating graves of soldiers. They were decorating graves before the end of the Civil war.
Memorial Day was officially announced on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Waterloo NY was officially named the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966.
After World War I the holiday changed from just remembering the dead who fought in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
Most families celebrate by remembering their loved family members who have died. And go to the cemeteries to put flowers on their graves.
In Flanders Fields, Moina Michael had her own poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies
She had people start wearing red poppies on Memorial day to honor those people who died serving the country in war. In 1948 Ms. Michael was honored for her idea by the US Post Office who issued a red 3 cent postage stamp with her on the front of it.
Since the 1950's small American flags are put on more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery in commemoration of the soldier's service. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers who have been buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
The Day is often celebrated today by hanging a flag (as we did on our house) and with a family picnic or BBQ. I hope you all have a day filled with time spent with family and friends - and a moment to remember lost loved ones.