Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Facts Revisited

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

I hope you all are enjoying the long holiday weekend. I know that I am as I've given myself the day off…well, after a few announcements.

Recently Darcia Helle from A Word Please interviewed Edward Patterson who founded and runs a group called Operation e-Book Drop (OEBD). This group provides free e-Books to the men and women in military service. I plan to offer my novel, The Ride and thought some other authors might be interested in this organization also. If you know anyone in the coalition forces who are deployed, you might want to let them know about the opportunity to download free e-Books. Find out more by emailing Edward Patterson or visit Operation e-Book Drop.

Be sure to stop by Darcia’s blog for the full interview and more information.

On Thursday, June 3, I’ll be a guest blogger at Nancy Famolari’s Place talking about character names. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to stop by.

Now, for those who missed it last year, I am posting a rerun of Memorial Day Facts.

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 Also at 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 today.

Tags: Maya Angelou, Memorial Day, General Logan, Decoration Day, Moina Michael, poppies, operation e-bookl, Darcia Helle,


Rayna M. Iyer said...

Loved the post. I do vaguely know it is Memorial Day in the US and that people commemorate it with poppies, but those extra facts were wonderful to digest.
For the dumb, it is celebrated on the last Monday of May, is it?

A. K. said...

Thanks for the information.. Never knew about those stufss

Jan Morrison said...

In Canada, we honour our vets on Remembrance Day. It is Nov.11 and not tied to a long-weekend. This seems important to me if you want it to be more than just a long weekend and store sales. We stop wherever we are at 11:11 for a minute's silence. My friend and I go down the South Shore and stop at a Cenotaph in whatever town we're in. We wear poppies and after the minute's silence we take them off and let them fall to the ground. My dad was a pilot for the RCAF in WWII. His three brothers also served and one of them was on a plane that was downed. He never came home.

Mason Canyon said...

Enjoyed your post. Hope you have a safe and Happy Memorial Day.

Thoughts in Progress

Journaling Woman said...

Jane, my family still calls it Decoration Day where we decorate the graves of those we have loved and or served.

Great post!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Yes, Rayna, Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday in May. Thanks for pointing that out.

A.K. – You’re welcome!

Jan, thanks for sharing your Remembrance Day celebration. There is a movement here to restore the original Memorial Day so it wouldn’t be part of a long weekend, but I don’t know how successful they’ll be.

Mason, Hope you have a Happy Memorial Day, too.

Journaling Woman – I like the name Decoration Day also.

Carol Kilgore said...

My live-in handyman is Coast Guard. Enjoy the holiday.

Helen Ginger said...

When I was in elementary school, each student was given a red paper poppy to wear. I wonder if the day is even mentioned in school anymore.

Straight From Hel

Darcia Helle said...

Jane, thank you for posting the information on Operation e-Book Drop!

And thanks for the brush-up on Memorial Day. I did an article on it a few years back (knowing nothing to begin with!) and I remember that fact about the south refusing to recognize it originally. In many ways, our country has come a long way in a short time.

Joanne said...

A nice tribute to Memorial Day today, bringing the focus to where it should be. Calling it Decoration Day seems more apt, too, really reminding us of its intent.

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