Memorial Day

image by Veronica Andrews on pixabay

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I won’t wish you a “Happy” Memorial Day, because there’s no “happy” in it. It’s a day of remembrance–a day to honor those who died in defense of their country.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. After the Civil War, across the country, communities began the tradition of gathering at cemeteries to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers and flags. Some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized in 1865 by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina, less than a month after the Confederacy’s surrender.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. He proclaimed that May 30 was to be 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.”

By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. 

Each year on Memorial Day, a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. The poppies that we wear on our lapels come from the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, which memorializes the April 1915 battle in Belgium’s Ypres Salient. It was first published in Punch magazine and led to the adoption of the poppy as the Flower of Remembrance for the British and Commonwealth war dead. Eventually, the poppy was adopted in the U.S. as a symbol of remembrance on Memorial Day.


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.

As Memorial Day 2023 approaches, while we’re picnicking, and boating, and watching parades, and shooting fireworks, let us not forget the meaning behind it all. I wish that I’d written the following passage, but the author is unknown: 

Monday will be the most expensive holiday on the calendar. 

Every hot dog, every burger, every spin around the lake, or drink with friends and family is a debt purchased by others. 

This is not about all who’ve served–that day comes in the fall. 

This one is in honor of those who paid in life and blood; whose moms never saw them again, whose dads wept in private, and whose kids only remembered them from pictures. 

This isn’t simply a day off. 

This is a day to remember that others paid for every free breath you ever get to take.


John 8:36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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3 thoughts on “Memorial Day”

  1. Thank you Teresa for this post, I had a little password problem but I think I’m back. I like your idea about it is not a happy day but a solemn day, I agree !
    best to you and Mike

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