Memorial Day

Today you may be camping out of town, grilling out with a neighbor, or just enjoying the three day weekend at home.  Today marks Memorial Day, a national holiday that has been established to remember those who have passed before us.  Many cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, however, the first state to actually recognize it as a national holiday was New York in 1873.  General John Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868, three years after the Civil War had ended.  At first the holiday was called Decoration Day, so that people could decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  He picked the date May 30, because the flowers would all be in bloom by then.  In 1890, all of the northern states began to recognize the holiday, but the South refused to recognize it.  However, after World War I, the South had a change of heart.  The holiday itself became a holiday not only honoring those that had fallen in the Civil War, but honoring those who had fought and died in any war. A national holiday was born.
A tradition developed with the wearing of Red Poppies.  This tradition was born from Moina Michael who wrote a 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.
Her inspiration came from the poem “In Flanders Fields.”  She began to wear red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who had died serving the nation.  She sold these poppies to friends and family members in order to raise money for disabled servicemen.  Madam Guerin from France learned of this custom and took it back to France. She made artificial red poppies to sell to raise money for war orphans of both France and Belgium.
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