Thursday, May 25, 2017
Memorial Day is a national holiday that has become synonymous with the unofficial start of summer, picnics and camping season. While we look forward to Memorial Day as a time to relax, the true story behind this holiday is more somber and worthy of remembrance. Did You Know?
1. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day as a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Since Memorial Day honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation you should not wish someone a "Happy Memorial Day."
2. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
3. Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
4. General Logan proclaimed Decoration Day to be the 30th of May, 1868. He selected that date because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
5. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.
6. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
7. Moina Michael conceived of an idea to wear red poppieson Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation in war. She was inspired by the poem “in Flanders Fields”. She was the first to wear the red poppy and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money to benefit servicemen in need.
8. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
9. In traditional observance, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
10. Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of the day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored or neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades.
11. The website www.usmemorialday.org was created in the fall of 1994 to be a central point of information about Memorial Day in the United States of America, help restore its original intent, and to provide others a chance to share their feelings, pride, respect, and honor for those that gave their all.