I hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. After a long and busy weekend, I did take time out at 3PM today for the National Moment of Remembrance. For those who don’t know what that is, it is a moment to pause, reflect and respect those who have fallen in service to our country.
The beginnings of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally called, began after the Civil War. There are differing views as to when and where it started. One says that Southern women began it to honor the Confederate dead. Other sources claim that freed black slaves began it to honor the Union solders who died in the Civil War. The first official celebration of Decoration Day was May 30, 1868 by the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John Logan. Flowers were placed on both Union and Confederate graves at Arlington. Northern States quickly adopted the new day, but Southern states picked other days to honor their Rebel dead until after World War I.
Interestingly, the date was picked as no battle had been fought on the 30th of May. But in 1971, the day was changed to the last Monday in May to give government workers a 3 day holiday.
So where do the Poppies come in?
Poppies were first referenced in the poem In Flander’s Fields referring to the battles on French soil during World War I. An American woman, Moina Michael, penned a poem entitled We Shall Keep the Faith symbolizing the flower as the blood shed by valiant heroes on the field. She was the first to wear the red poppy on Memorial day and later sold the flowers to benefit servicemen in need. The tradition spread to many nations with the money going not just to veteran but including war orphans and widows.
So before today ends, think of those who died fighting for our country and maybe buy a poppy next time you see a VFW representative selling them.