Remembering Those Who Died To Kept Us Free

Memorial DayHistory

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). 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. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

General John A. Logan
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in hisGeneral Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. 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 celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

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.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. 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.

This Wikipedia entry tells us there are 146 National Cemetaries. Here are just a few photos of the places where those who served to keep us free have been put to rest.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Gettysburg National Cemetery

File:Gettysburg national cemetery img 4164.jpg

Golden Gate National Cemetery

File:GGNC;895 goldengate.jpg

Memphis National Cemetery

File:Memphis national cemetery.jpg

Fort Logan National Cemetery

File:Fort logan national cemetery 4.jpg

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At 3:00pm on Memorial day, please take a moment to remember those who fell in service to the greatest country ever conceived.

And, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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13 thoughts on “Remembering Those Who Died To Kept Us Free

  1. Thanks for the post. I was born and raised in Memphis, but I don’t remember going to the National Cemetery. When I was growing up in Memphis, there were lots of WWII veterans in the neighborhood. Most are dead, now, but I will not forget their efforts and sacrifices.

    There is a national cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, too. From the website National Cemetery Administration, ” the Marietta National Cemetery was established in 1866 to provide a suitable resting place for the nearly 10,000 Union dead from Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign”.

    The Confederate dead are buried in a different cemetery, donated by citizens of Marietta, and maintained by private donations because they did not think it appropriate for their heroes to be buried next to Union soldiers. It fell into disrepair over the years, unlike the nearby National Cemetery.

    Similarly, there is a National Cemetery at the Shiloh battlefield in Tennessee. Thousands of Union soldiers who died in that famous battle are buried there, but the thousands of Confederate dead were shoved into mass graves, or just put into unmarked shallow graves where they fell.

    1. Can’t tell you much, Bob. Nearly all media in this country is controled by the government or their allies. I heard a little on a Clumbian TV station last night that reported much the same as the link you provided. This morning I found a short article that claimed only one American was shot in the leg at a strip club in Caracas by a male employee of the club who ran off. Maybe today thre will be more newws. My guess is the guy(s) messed with the wrong woman.

  2. “My guess is the guy(s) messed with the wrong woman.”

    Exactly. Whenever American gringo males are exposed to the lovely Latin ladies, they go crazy. But of course, you know this 🙂

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