All too often the true meaning of Memorial Day gets overlooked and takes a backseat to backyard barbecues and everything that comes with them. Never forget the reason for the observance of this hallowed day. I thought I’d give you a few facts about Memorial Day so the significance of the thousands of American lives that were sacrificed in the name of Liberty and Justice would not be misrepresented.
|· Formerly known as Decoration Day, it was first enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War. |
· In May 1966, Waterloo, N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson because the practice of decorating soldiers’ graves was first observed on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter.
· On May 5, 1868, in his capacity a commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation that “Decoration Day” should be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year.
· Ironton, Ohio lays claim to the nation’s oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade, a tradition since 1869. The first parade was held May 5, 1868.
· The World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies. In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael inspired by the poem 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. 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.
· Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. · On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional date to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 dates to the last Monday in May.
· The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I.
· In July 1913, veterans of the United States and Confederate armies gathered in Gettysburg to commemorate the fifty-year anniversary of the Civil War’s bloodiest and most famous battle.
· In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day.
God Bless the men and women of our Armed Services. God Bless Texas. God Bless America.