Memorial Day

Last night the local Marriott Resort had fireworks. I’m not sure I had taken photos of fireworks before. With my camera, anyway, you have to snap before the burst, as the elapsed time is long at night. This is my best, taken from my driveway.

Many of you out there who are my age may remember memorizing the poem, In Flanders Fields, and making paper poppies in elementary school (to be sold for the VFW or just to give to everyone we knew to wear on Memorial Day?)   

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  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 to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

In Flanders Fields       
by: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

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.

In 1915, inspired by this poem, Moina Michael conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.

I should have taken flowers to my father’s grave today, I just didn’t want to go alone.  Dad hadn’t died in The War (or I wouldn’t be here), but had been honorably discharged with PTSD, although it wasn’t called that then.  I never knew until Mom died and I found the discharge papers. 

Luckily we’re able to talk about post-traumatic stress disorder today.  I just wish we’d get better at treating it.  Or, better yet, have no more wars to cause it.

Now how did you spend the holiday?

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2 Responses to “Memorial Day”

  1. N Says:

    the fireworks pic is amazing!! Wow!

  2. dick Says:

    I appreciated your rememberence of Dad. Interesting that I never noticed the call to ‘continue the fight’ in Flanders Field poem — sounds a little bizarre in this day.
    By the way…I remember the paper poppies…

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