Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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.
This poem was written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae while he was on the battlefront. You can read the full story.
This poem meant so much to me when I was growing up. Does anyone else remember drawing the Flanders Fields with poppies and rows upon rows of grave markers? It was significant in my small world and I've never forgotten those poppies. Even today, I love getting the poppies from the veterans!
I don't know if there are such significant poems or songs in todays world. I don't know if the kids in school really understand what Memorial Day is all about . . . . so . . . . . for those that don't know, Memorial Day was originally called Declaration Day and it was intended to be a day of remembrance for those that died in the service of their country, the United States of America.
On May 5, 1868 General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, proclaimed “The 30th of May, 1868, is 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.” May 30th was designated because it was not the day of any battle.
Today, it is celebrated in every state, most on the last Monday in the month of May according to the passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971.
Traditionally the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff then lowered slowly to half-staff where it remains until noon. The flag is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
The traditions of Memorial Day have been forgotten over the years, and our children and their children think that this is just another holiday. Let's keep reminding them of what Memorial Day really stands for . . . . . it is not in honor for the living; it is in honor of more than a million men and women who gave their all for their country.
May we always remember.