With the beginning of this week starting with Memorial Day, I want to take a little break from writing about flowers and focus instead on the meaning and history of this day.
Memorial Day was created in memory of those servicemen and women who died while in service.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was created as a result of the Civil War. After the Civil War, people wanted to honor those who died in battle. On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic*, issued an order that May 30 would be known as Decoration Day. May 30 was chosen because no battles had been fought that date.
New York was the first state to adopt Decoration Day in 1873. Most Northern states had adopted Decoration Day by 1890, but the South refused to participate until after WWI, choosing to honor their fallen soldiers on separate days.
In 1971, Congress declared the holiday as Memorial Day, to be recognized on the final Monday of May. There are several states that still choose to honor the Confederate fallen on a separate day, including Texas.
Fun fact: did you know the red poppy is the flower of Memorial Day? A tradition started in 1919 by Moina Michael, it spread to other countries, including France. In 1922, the VFW started selling red poppies in remembrance of the fallen. In fact, the VFW began selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.
But the most important thing to remember when celebrating Memorial Day is this:
Civil War casualties 498,332
WWI casualties 53,402
WWII casualties 291,557
Korean conflict 36,574
Persian Gulf war 383
Iraq war 4,410
(Source: US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, US Dept. of Defense)
That's 945,062 fallen soldiers and does not include those who died in Somalia, Beirut, Grenada, Bosnia, etc., nor does it include any soldiers classified as MIA.
Those men and women are why we celebrate Memorial Day every year. Over 1 million regular people, just like you and I, went and go into battle to protect this country. On Memorial Day, we remember and are blessed because of the fallen.
*This blog is dedicated to my Uncle Jimmy, a rear gunner on a B-29 bomber in the Korean Conflict. He was last seen going down with his plane. He is still classified as MIA. You are forever missed, Jimmy.
~~Lilygrass flowers and decor
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