The Empty Nest

Must Have Monday #3: Week of 5/25

Memorial Day, flag

Memorial Day, What We Are Celebrating

Welcome back to another episode of Must Have Monday!  Today is a special Monday in the sense that it is a holiday.  Today is Memorial Day.  And I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this MHM to Memorial Day.  

Now, I am not sure if many of you even know what we celebrate Memorial Day for.  Or maybe you just do not know the history of how it got started.  But I am one of those people that like to know why and what we are celebrating so I did a little research, this way we all can be informed.  You’re welcome!

It all began…

Memorial Day began as a tribute to honor the soldiers who had fallen in the Civil War which ended in 1865.  As time went on, they decided to make it so any soldier who fought in any battle could be honored.  Memorial Day became the day to honor all soldiers who lost their lives.  This became especially important after World War I ended.  They wanted every soldier to be included.

There have been many places who are remembered as the first to start the tradition of Memorial Day.  But in 1966, the U.S. government declared that Waterloo, New York would be recognized as the birthplace of this day.

Waterloo originally celebrated earlier in the month of May, it would close businesses and they would have special ceremonies in cemeteries and put American flags on graves of soldiers.  This day was once called Decoration Day in significance of the decorations that were placed around towns and on gravesites.  

Decoration Day was celebrated on May 30th every year.  But in the late 1960s they declared that the day should be called Memorial Day and that it should be on the last Monday in May.  This way everyone who worked could have Monday off and make it a three day weekend.  The day was officially changed to a federal holiday in 1971.  

Memorial Day poppies

The Poppy Flower…

This is the bright red flower that you might see people wearing or being handed out.  The poppy is the flower that was first to grow in the fields where the battles took place during World War I.  There were two poems written about the poppy flower which helped it gain its tradition in being worn on Memorial Day.    

The first poem written by John McCrae in May of 1915 titled, “In Flanders Fields.”  This poem actually inspired Moina Michael to write her poem “We Shall Keep the Faith” in November 1918.  Both of these poems discuss the poppy flower and how it played a role on the battlefield back then.  

This made it the symbol for not only Memorial Day but also Veteran’s Day as well.  The poppy symbolizes not only the loss of life, but the recovery of life.  It also represents that life must go on.  We recognize this through the wearing of the poppies on these days.  

Memorial Day

Our Traditions Today…

We celebrate Memorial Day much like it has been celebrated for over 100 years.  We decorate our streets, homes, cemeteries with the American flag.  We have parades, cookouts, and fireworks.  And many ceremonies and recognitions to honor those we have lost.  

Some of us even get to have a long weekend.  But that is not what it is about.  And we should really never forget what it is about.  Memorial Day is about our freedom.  The freedom we gained when someone else lost their life.  

So, as you are sitting there this Memorial Day enjoying your time and the unofficial start to summer.  I want you to remember we are able to celebrate and be free because of those who believed in something bigger than themselves.  

Take a moment and put out those flags.  Pin on your poppies.  And have a moment to remember.  Remember what it is all for.  

Thank you for stopping by.  I know I did not even come close to giving Memorial Day and all those who fought for us the justice they deserved.  But I do hope that it made you stop and think.  Think about why this is a Must Have Monday.  

Feel free to add any comments or memories you have about Memorial Day.  Or even if you just want to honor someone by adding their name.  I think that would be really special!  

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