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News in Youth Services

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Decoration Day and Red Poppies

This is a big holiday weekend and the unofficial start of summer.  While many of us are enjoying parades and barbeques with family, others will be visiting cemeteries to honor fallen soldiers.  The true purpose of this weekend is to remember and honor those who have died in service of the United States of America.

I thought I'd share a few things I learned about Memorial Day that I hadn't known.  Originally the holiday was called Decoration Day and it was borne out of the Civil War.  The day was created by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1968 to honor
soldiers from both sides of the Civil War.  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, hence the name Decoration Day.  By 1890, the holiday was recognized by all of the northern states.  The South refused to acknowledge that date and honored their dead on separate days.  After World War I, the holiday was changed to honor Americans who died fighting in any war.

Have you ever wondered why you see people wearing red poppies on Memorial Day?  In 1915, Moina Michael wrote a poem after being inspired by the poem, "In Flanders Fields."

"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."

She conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day to salute those who died serving the nation during war.  Today the red poppy is still used for this purpose.  Today, poppies are assembled by disabled and needy veterans through the VFW "Buddy" Poppies program.  The funds raised through the sale of these poppies provide financial assistance in maintaining veterans' rehabilitation and service programs.  So if given the opportunity, wear that red poppy with pride on Memorial Day
and at 3 p.m. take a moment of silence to show remembrance and respect for those who gave their lives to keep us safe.

Memorial Day books 
Civil War books 

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