5 Facts You Need to Know About Memorial Day

  • May 28, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell

Memorial Day is the official kick off to summer and is something we all look forward to.  Memorial day is part of a delicious 3-day weekend, traditionally filled with family fun, picnics and barbeques, or maybe even a trip to the beach.  It’s definitely time to fill up those swimming pools, pull out the summer wardrobe and dust off the patio furniture, but there really is a whole lot more to Memorial Day than just 3 fun-filled days. Here’s our top 5 list of facts that you really should know about this holiday that besides being lots of fun, should also be filled with both honor and reverence.

  1. Memorial Day started right after the Civil War.  The origins of this holiday go way back.  May 30, 1868 was designated to be what was at first called “Decoration Day”.  This event was designed especially to honor the memory of the many, many fallen soldiers of both the Union and the Confederacy, while also giving survivors an opportunity to decorate the graves of these brave soldiers.  General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery after which the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were then decorated. 
  2. “Decoration Day” was declared a time of remembrance and became a time for the nation to remember the war dead and to decorate the graves of these fallen soldiers.  Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30.  This day was chosen largely because of the profusion of flowers that would be in bloom at this time of the year.
  3. Red Poppies became associated with Memorial Day in about 1915.  A woman named Moina Michael was so inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” that she composed a poem of her own:

  4. “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.”

    Moina came up with the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day as a way of honoring those that died serving their country, a tradition that still continues to this day.

  5. Traditional Memorial Day observance states that flags should be flown at half-mast until noon.  At mid-day it is then appropriate to raise the flag to the top of the mast.              
  6. Memorial Day is as much about the survivors as it is about the deceased.  It’s the survivors that can make sure that the memory of our fallen soldiers lives on and that the stories of their ultimate bravery are told.  Survivors can continue to tell the tales of our war heroes and perpetuate the ideals that they believed in and ultimately gave their lives for.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day!

“For love of country they accepted death.”  James A. Garfield