“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.”
These first lines from the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” inspired red poppies to be the symbol of fallen soldiers. This tradition is a little know one that started in 1918. As I read up on the history of Memorial Day I learned a lot of little known facts about this national holiday.
Such as, traditionally the American flag is raised to full height and then immediately lowered to half mast until noon. At noon the flag is raised to full height again for the remainder of the day in remembrance of all that our fallen soldiers sacrificed for, and how we, the living, will continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.
Then, at 3 pm local time across America, a moment of silence is to be observed to remember those fallen brothers and sisters in arms. It is an informal moment to pause, remember, respect and reflect.
Memorial Day was born out of the years following the Civil War. That brother vs brother national conflict claimed many lives and communities began honoring their dead. This yearly observance was first called Decoration Day and eventually became known as Memorial Day and was declared a federal holiday in 1971.
Cities and citizens across the nation hold parades and visit cemeteries to honor and remember the soldiers that never made it home. Despite the solemnity the holiday is more popularly celebrated with barbecues and weekend vacations and store sales, as it unofficially marks the beginning of summer!
We honor those, the fight they led
That secures us safely our home and bed,
While we smile and soak in the sun
Our debt lies with those whose final fight is won.