To remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country…this is the meaning of Memorial Day. Without their bravery and true heroism, we would not have the freedoms we do. And it is our responsibility as Americans to remember and honor them each and every day, especially today.
History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day was initially known as Decoration Day and honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a historic speech while 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. It was after World War I when the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. In December of 2000, a resolution was passed that asks all Americans to pause at 3PM local time for a moment of silence.
The Story of the Poppy
The poppy became a powerful symbol of remembrance thanks to a famous poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian who served as a brigade surgeon for an Allied artillery unit. He was inspired when he saw the bright red flowers blooming on broken ground; and so he wrote a poem from the point of view of the fallen soldiers buried underneath them.
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the skyThe larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved and were loved, and now we lie,In Flanders fields.Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throwThe torch; be yours to hold it high.If ye break faith with us who dieWe shall not sleep, though poppies growIn Flanders fields.