Each year Memorial Day comes around and each year I find I spend it enjoying a long weekend from work, bar-b-que and patriotic decorations.
This Memorial Day I wanted to get a better understanding of what the initial intent was when this holiday was created, so I decided to do a little research and was pretty surprised at what I had found.
What I found was the foundation of this event was actually originally called Decoration Day and on Decoration day organized women’s groups went to the graves of the Confederate Dead. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
There are many Cities that claim to have started Memorial Day but History sets the Official date as May 5, 1868 with a proclamation from General John Logan. There became a great divide over this holiday as Northern States embraced it and Southern states refused to acknowledge it. It wasn’t until Memorial Day was changed to Honor not just the Civil War Dead but instead all of Americans who died fighting any war, that the holiday became recognized by almost every state. It became a National Holiday in 1971.
Do you remember the Memorial Day Poppies? A woman named Moina wrote a poem
” 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.”
She then came up with the idea to wear poppies on Memorial Day as a sign of respect and remembrance for those who died fighting a war. The poppies were given for donations to benefit war orphans.
Today Memorial Day is all but erased by long weekends and Bar-B-Ques, of course we still don the red write and blue noting the patriotism of the Holiday but most do not remember how and why of celebrating this day and who we are honoring.
As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”
Even today there are still Americans out there who work to restore the real meaning of Memorial Day back to the state of honor it once held. Here is the Website that holds a petition you can sign and share http://www.usmemorialday.org/act.html
So because you read this Blog today I charge you with the responsibility of making sure YOU remember this day in the spirit in which it was created. Honor our Heroes anyway you see fit but please honor those who gave their lives for our freedoms and please remind those who you surround yourself with this Holiday, why we are really all gathered here together today.
Below are a few suggestions on ways to honor Memorial Day as it was conceived to be honored:
- Make your own “Decoration day by purchasing or making patriotic flowers or displays and bringing them to a local cemetery to decorate an undecorated grave
- Honor your veteran family members by taking a trip to their grave
- Thank a veteran or thank the surviving family member of a veteran
- Hang your Flag
- Put flags out to decorate your street or parks
- Visit or donate to a Veterans hospital
- Donate to Veterans organization
- Participate in a moment of Silence
- Attend a Veterans Day program in the area
- Share this Blog so others can join the movement to embrace Memorial Day as a day of honoring those who have served and given their lives for our freedoms.