In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress to honor those who have died in all American wars. Its origins lie in “Decoration Day”, a time established by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.
In years past, we spent our Memorial Days cooking out with the family…while it was a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in battle for our Country, we never really did any physical act to recognize them. We prayed and my father hung the American Flag in the front of the house, but as far as I can remember that’s all we did. We didn’t decorate any graves with flowers.
Yesterday at church, my children’s Sunday School teacher took the kids around the cemetery and stopped at every tombstone that bore an American flag. She encouraged us along with the rest of the congregation at the end of the church service to remember the fallen soldiers on this special day.
This year, I’m starting a new tradition with my family. We have fields of yellow buttercups on our property and our family is going to go out and pick baskets full to take with us to our local cemetery. And we are going to decorate the graves of those who died for our freedom.
THE BUDDY POPPY
If you don’t have a family tradition for this National Holiday, I encourage you to give this idea a try. If you don’t have fields of flowers in your yard, then consider seeking out some veterans who will be distributing artificial poppies in recognition of their fallen comrades.
“In 1924, a poppy factory was built in Pittsburgh, Pa., providing a reliable source of poppies and a practical means of assistance to veterans. Today, veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities and veterans homes help assemble the poppies, which are distributed by veterans service organizations throughout the country.
“Donations received in return for these artificial poppies have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years. The poppy itself continues to serve as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation’s freedom.”
NATIONAL MOMENT OF REMEMBRANCE
“To ensure the sacrifices of America â€™s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law â€œThe National Moment of Remembrance Act,â€ P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commissionâ€™s charter is to â€œencourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunityâ€ by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
“The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: â€œItâ€™s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.â€
We plan on being at my parents’ house, cooking out at that time, but I will be sure to make certain we all stop precisely at 3PM for a moment of silence and remember as an extended family the price paid for us to gather freely on this beautiful spring day.
God bless you and your family, and may God continue to bless America.
SOURCE: US DEPT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS