It is Memorial Day, a day of remembering those who died serving our country. They fought a gallant fight just so that we all are free.
When did Memorial Day start? Many laid claim to its start. But, May 5, 1868, General John Logan the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed it. It was first observed May 30, 1868 by placing flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers of the Union and the Confederate in the Arlington National Cemetery.
The first state to observe Memorial Day was New York in 1873. By 1890, all northern states followed suit. The south refused to observe on the same day as the north. The south observed on separate days until World War I. Now almost all states celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday of the month of May. Congress passed an act, National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90-363) that would ensure a three-day national holiday.
There are still several southern states that honor the confederate soldiers on other days.
- Texas – January 19
- Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi – April 26
- South Carolina – May 10
- Louisiana and Tennessee – June 3
Today, it is feared that the meaning of Memorial Day has been lost and is not observed like it once was. In December 2000, a resolution was passed that on the last Monday of May at 3:00 p.m. locally, everyone would stop what they are doing and pause for a moment of silence or listen to ‘Taps’ in remembrance of the soldiers that were lost in war.
Another fun fact:
A woman by the name of Moina Michael sold the ‘Red Poppy’ and the proceeds would go toward the servicemen in need. On Memorial Day of 1922 the VFW was the first veterans organization to nationally sell red poppies that had been crafted by veterans. Two years later the U.S. Postal Service honored Ms Michael with a red three-cent stamp with her likeness on it.
Here are some steps to take in observing Memorial Day:
- Visit a cemetery and place flags or flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers
- Visit memorials
- Fly U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
- Fly POW/MIA Flag
- Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m.
- Renew the pledge to aid widows, widowers, and orphans of the fallen as well as aiding the disabled veterans.
The following poem was written by Rev. Connie Gibbs [Copyright, 2003] of the Woodland United Methodist Church, Virginia. Visit their website www.gbgm-umc.org/woodland-windsor/index.html.
We Must Remember
We pause on this Memorial Day, a brief moment in time,
To bring close to our hearts those memories we hold so dear
Of the men and women before us who unselfishly put their dreams, their lives on the line.
Where danger lay as a stalker,
waiting to take away each breath, while the soldier
plowed with determination the furrows of death.
We must remember, we must, you and I,
those special heroes who chose to fly,
to fly the skies of blue that turned as dark as the midnight sky,
Their wings began to shudder as smoke choked their breath away,
And hope gave way to the resignation, “Today, I’m going to die.”
Treading the waters so deep and wide,
Men and women continued on their mission,
For God and country, their hearts would abide.
Surprised by attacks with brutal disregard for human life,
they fought to the end, knowing that life and limb would be lost,
whether of self or friend.
Yes by land, by sea, and in the skies,
they fought for our land,
they fought for freedom so that you and I might stand,
Stand for what is right, for what is good and true,
fight that we might say without fear, “God loves you.”
Yes, we must remember, for freedom is not cheap,
for lives and limbs were lost so that we might keep,
All the things that we can have and all the things we can do,
Like cars and boats and a house with a roof,
Like going to church without fear,
and reading the Bible where we find the truth,
The truth of knowing that whether we are red, yellow, black,
We are all God’s children and we need to learn to love one another as God first loved us.
For if there is to be peace on earth,
where all men and women are free,
it must begin with each and all of us,
let it begin with you and me.
Please leave your comments below on how you celebrated Memorial Day.
That is the Raysor’s Edge way!