Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Aislynn Miller, Writer

Memorial Day is more than just a three day holiday, it is a day to honor and remember those who died in military service. It takes place on the last Monday of May. There are many different traditions and customs that take place on that day.

The papaver rhoeas, also known as Flanders poppy, corn poppy, red poppy, and corn rose is associated with this day. The association comes from the poem “In Flanders Field” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrea. After a battle during WWI where a friend of his died, he was surprised by the red flowers that sprung up out of the ground. He was moved to write about it and in 1915 it was published in a London Magazine. People wear the poppy to show respect and the poem is read at memorials all across the country.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is another tradition for Memorial Day. It serves as a symbolic grave for all war dead soldiers whose remains have not been found or identified. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument in Arlington, Virginia was founded in 1921 for a tomb of an unidentified American Soldier. After each war they kept this tradition and buried one unknown soldier in the grave for each war. WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The Vietnam crypt is empty as he was identified using modern technology. His name was Air Force 1st Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie and he was a pilot who was shot down in 1972. The crypt was then redirected to honor all the missing service members of Vietnam.

Other traditions are that at 3:00 P.M. local time a national moment of remembrance and silence for the fallen soldiers takes place; it is not certain where that custom originated. Also Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. It came from people placing flags and flowers in their local cemeteries for the fallen.

All of the traditions are done to show that people remember and respect those who gave the greatest sacrifice. Anonymous said “Freedom is never free.” While chilling during the three day weekend is cool, remember that just a moment of silence or wearing a poppy on Memorial Day is important. “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”- George S. Patton Jr.

In Flanders Fields

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.