Remember Those Who Served
All Gave Some. Some Gave All.
Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. It signals for many longer days, BBQ, family time, and vacations. But what is the true meaning of this American holiday? Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, a day to honor the men and women who lost their lives while defending our Nation and its values.
Decoration Day & Memorial Day Origins
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and originated in the years following the Civil War. On May 30, 1868, the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery; and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
With the Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday of May. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, raising flags, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades.
The Remembrance Poppy
The red field poppy is the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the United States, and is the internationally recognized symbol of Remembrance.
In 1915, Moina Michael, an American professor and humanitarian conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.
In 1921, a French woman named Madame Anna Guerin, learned of this custom and founded the American and French Children’s League, through which she organized French women, children and war veterans to make artificial poppies out of cloth to raise money for war-orphaned children and widowed women. Throughout the year, this tradition spread to other countries. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars)became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later, their Buddy Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.
National Moment of Remembrance
Each year at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, Americans unite in a National Moment of Remembrance which honors America’s fallen and their families. All Major League Baseball games halt, Amtrak train whistles sound across the country, and hundreds of other nationwide participants remind Americans to stop and remember.
On December 28, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. The National Moment of Remembrance is designated as 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day each year, and asks for all Americans to pause in an act of national unity for the duration of one minute. The time 3:00 p.m. was chosen because it is a time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms.
We are reminded this Memorial Day to say “Thank You” to our Nation’s heroes. We thank them for their generous and selfless service to our nation and to our liberty. We extend our humble gratitude to all of our military, their families, and to all the veterans that have served our nation. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution and sacrifices they have made to secure our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.
How do you observe Memorial Day? Share Memorial Day traditions with us!