Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of those who have died serving our country. General John Alexander Logan ordered the Memorial Day holiday to be observed by decorating the war dead. The day became known as “Decoration Day” because of the practice of decorating soldier’s graves with flowers. In 1971, Memorial day was declared a federal holiday. We observe this day with families and friends by visiting cemeteries and memorials to pay homage to their loved ones.
Memorial Day was born out of the Civil War and was 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, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On 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.
In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem: She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. 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. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.
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.
Please remember why we have the Freedom to enjoy our Family, our Friends and this Wonderful Place we call The United States of America.
God Bless the Men and Women who Serve and who have served our Country