|2016 Memorial Day parade, Nashua, NH|
Memorial Day, a solemn reminder that freedom is never free, honors men and women who have served and died in military service.
This U.S. federal holiday is observed annually on the last day in May (today). The 3-day holiday weekend is regarded as the "unofficial" start of summer. Many will attend parades, BBQs and picnics or go shopping for sales.
The holiday was originally called Decoration Day and was started to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed in General Order No. 11 by General John Logan in May 1868. (Several southern states set aside an added separate day for honoring Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 28 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, and June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee.)
The poem was written in May 1915 during WWI by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae after presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier.
In Flanders Fields (Lt. Col. John McCrae, 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.
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution, passed in 2000, asks all Americans at 3 p.m. local time: “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
(Comments are off. Celebrate the holiday and remember.)