During your parades, picnics, barbeques and time with family members and friends, please take some time today to remember those who sacrificed so much to preserve our liberty and our sovereignty. The best way to honor them is to continue to be vigilant to protect our freedoms and rights from those who would take them from us both from within, as well as from outside of, our borders.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We 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 throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In 1915, inspired by that poem, Moina Michael replied with her own prose:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
Ms. Michael conceived the 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 she sold poppies to her friends and co-workers. The money she made went to benefit servicemen in need.