Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and is often a time of family get-togethers, picnics, parades and community events. Too often, we lose sight of the true meaning of this Federal holiday. Memorial Day is for remembering the people who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. The holiday originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military. Many may have heard this story in the past but perhaps our younger members have not.
“Today, I saw a man selling poppies
stop a lady and ask if he could re-position the poppy she was
wearing. While doing so, he told the lady she should wear the
poppy on her right side; the red represents the blood of all those
who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those
who didn’t have their loved ones return home, and the green leaf
represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity
after the war destroyed so much. The leaf should be positioned at
11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of
the eleventh month, the time that WWI formally ended. He was
worried that younger generations wouldn’t understand this and
his generation wouldn’t be around for much longer to teach
One of the more well-known war memorials is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, first dedicated there decades ago. Here are a few facts:
– There are 58,282 names on the wall. When it was first
dedicated, the wall contained the names of 57,939 American
servicemen believed to have lost their lives in the Vietnam
War. But since then, that number has jumped to 58,282. In
fact, 10 new names were engraved this year.
– Approximately 1,200 of these are listed as missing (MIA’s,
POW’s and others).
– There are 3 sets of fathers and sons on the wall.
– 31 sets of parents lost 2 of their sons.
– 8 women are on the wall – nurses.
– 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the war
and 153 of them are on the wall.
Have fun over the Memorial Day weekend, but please don’t forget to thank and honor the men and women of our armed services who gave their lives so we could enjoy our freedom.