Memorial Day May 29, 2017: A day for remembering


This year those who have died in the military services are being honored on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, a Federal holiday. It is also a day to thank those who serve today. 

Like so many traditions, the original start of Memorial Day celebrations is not known. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868, as being May 30th. Wild flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in that first official celebration.


Fields of poppies

In 1915, John McCrae wrote In "Flanders Fields," referring to the carnage of World War I (1914-1918) and fields of war in Belgium, which inspired Moina Michael, in the same year, to write:

Oh! You who sleep in "Flanders Fields,"

Sleep sweet -- to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And, holding high, we keep the Faith

With all who died.

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,

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy red

We wear in honor of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields. 

Those words led to Poppy Day. An artificial poppy was given to each person who  donated money to benefit service people in need. The program expanded into Europe when Madam Guerin took the idea to France and collected monies for orphaned children and widows.

Union soldiers, killed during the Civil War, were the first to be honored on this day. As World War I and II occurred more soldiers were added to the list of Decoration Day honorees. 

In 1971 the observance was changed from May 30 to the last day in May.  

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization became the first veterans' organization to sell poppies nationally in 1922. Disabled vets were employed two years later to make the symbolic flowers. Moina Michael was honored in 1948 when the US Post Office issued the red stamp with her likeness on it. 

Formerly known as Decoration, today is a time to honor those who have and are serving our country. It is hoped that all observe a minute of silence at 3 p.m.


Issued in 1948



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