Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Facts

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” - Maya Angelou

My family, at one time or another, has had members in every branch of the military except for the Coast Guard. Yet, the only thing I knew about Memorial Day was that it was set aside to honor Americans who died in battle. That’s a bit embarrassing, so I decided to dig deeper. Here are a few things I found out:

It was originally called Decoration Day.

Proclaimed by General John Logan on May 5, 1868, it was first observed on May 30 of that year by placing flowers on Union and Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all northern states.

The South refused to acknowledge the day and honored their dead at a different time until World War I. At that time, the day was changed from honoring those who died fighting in the Civil War to Americans who died fighting in any war.

There are disputes over which town first came up with the idea, but in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of Memorial Day.

In 1915, Moina Michael came up with the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day after writing the following 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.

Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, 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."

Many people today think of Memorial Day only as a chance to have a cookout and celebrate a three-day weekend. A movement, Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance, is an effort to bring respect back to the day.

For more information visit usmemorialday.org. There’s also a touching video. Unfortunately, it’s preceded by a brief commercial but still worth watching as a reminder of what so many men and women have gone through for our country.

One can only hope that there will come a time when people of the world can live together in peace and future generations will only know about war from what they read in history books. In the meantime, my wish is that the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan stay safe and return home soon.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tags: Maya Angelou, Memorial Day, General Logan, Decoration Day, Moina Michael, poppies,Arlington Cemetery,

9 comments:

Marvin D. Wilson said...

"One can only hope that there will come a time when people of the world can live together in peace and future generations will only know about war from what they read in history books."

Amen to that. Excellent post, Jane.

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Jane, thanks so much for the background on Memorial Day and for reminding me of its importance. Hope you have a wonderful one.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

"The South refused to acknowledge the day and honored their dead at a different time until World War I."
Troublesome Southerners!

I think about every holiday needs a movement to remind people of its reason - especially Christmas.

L. Diane Wolfe
www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
www.spunkonastick.net
www.thecircleoffriends.net

Helen Ginger said...

A wonderful tribute and post for today. I really appreciate hearing the background information. Never knew where the poppies came from. You don't see that much anymore. When I was much younger, it was a tradition to wear poppies.
Helen
Straight From Hel

julielomoe said...

Jane, this is a beautiful and informative post. It's so important to highlight the true significance of this day.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Amen! And God bless those willing to step up and protect us in the meantime.

Patricia Stoltey's blog

Morgan Mandel said...

Lots of people only see this as just another holiday. Unless it touches them, they don't realize or don't care about its significance.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
http://www.morganmandel.com

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Thanks for these neat facts, Jane!

Galen Kindley said...

What a fascinating and well organized post. I love history, and there’s plenty of it here. Good job pulling all that together. It meets your usual high standards.

Best, Galen

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world