A time to honor those who gave their lives for our Nation --Memorial Day


1948 U.S. stamp commemorating the woman who founded Poppy Day

Like so many traditions, the original start of Memorial Day celebrations is not known. In 1966, however, President Lyndon Johnson  proclaimed that Waterloo, NY, was the birthplace of the event.

General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868. Wild flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868 in that first official celebration.

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 of took the idea to France and collected monies for orphaned children and widows.

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. The lady who started it all 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.

For more information: Poppy History; Moina Michael




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