Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day - It's History - 3pm Moment of Remembrance

The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire 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, in his General Order No. 11. “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.

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 (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). 

Wear Red Poppies

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
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.

Moina Michael visited Europe in June and July 1914. She was in Germany when the First World War broke out in August 1914, and traveled to Rome to return home to the US. In Rome, she assisted around 12,000 US tourists to seek passage back across the Atlantic. She returned to the US on the RMS Carpathia and returned to teaching at Normal School in Athens, Georgia. She was a professor at the University of Georgia when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917. She took a leave of absence from her work and volunteered to assist in the New York-based training headquarters for overseas YWCA workers.

On 9 November 1918, inspired by the Canadian John McCrae battlefront-theme poem In Flanders Fields, she wrote a poem in response called We Shall Keep the Faith. In tribute to the opening lines of McCrae's poem -- "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses row on row," -- Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in the war.

After the war was over, Michael returned to the University of Georgia and taught a class of disabled servicemen. Realizing the need to provide financial and occupational support for these servicemen, she pursued the idea of selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans. In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary, and by Earl Haig's British Legion Appeal Fund (later The Royal British Legion) later that year.

Known as the "Poppy Lady" for her humanitarian efforts, Michael received numerous awards during her lifetime. She retired from the University of Georgia in 1934, and published an autobiography in 1941, "The Miracle Flower:  The Story of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy".

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.


"As we contemplate the comforts and blessings of our lives and the well-being of our nation, I ask you to pause just for a moment to remember those who gave their lives to protect the values that give meaning to our lives."
President Bill Clinton
May 31, 1999 

The National Moment of Remembrance program was established to remind Americans of the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces as well as others who have died as a result of service to this nation. Americans around the world should pause and remember these heroes in a symbolic act of unity.

  • To raise Americans' awareness of the honorable contributions made by those who died while defending our nation.
  • To encourage all Americans to honor those who died as a result of service to this nation by pausing for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day. 

We will Never Forget You.

You will be Forever in our Prayers.


  1. that last photo says it all. the helmet/gun/boots always touches my heart... I saw a memorial that was thousands of boots in rows. I like that open book monument.. a beautiful post to help us remember

  2. Very informative! Love your summery look.
    I'm adding you to my blog roll list my friend.
    Have a beautiful weekend,
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  3. Just signed up on Twitter and Bloglovin to follow you, too, as well as added you to my blogroll.


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