A brief History of Memorial Day and Flowers
“May we never forget our fallen comrades. Freedom isn’t free.” Sgt. Major Bill Paxton
It is believed that Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) was chose as May 30, 1868, because flowers would be in bloom in both the Northern and Southern states at that time, while others believe May 30th was perfect because it didn’t happen on the the anniversary of any battles. Memorial Day was first called “Decoration Day” because of the practice of laying flowers on the graves of soldiers.
Our cheer goes back to them, the valiant dead!
Laurels and roses on their graves to-day,
Lilies and laurels over them we lay,
And violets o’er each unforgotten head.
What is the nationally recognized flower of Memorial Day? Red Poppies are recognized as the Memorial Day flower. These small red flowers were first worn back in 1915 to honor fallen soldiers. Here’s the story:
In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
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.
Ms. Michael then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women.
This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.
Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.” Elie Wiesel
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“As we set today aside to honor and thank our veterans, let us be mindful that we should do this every day of the year and not just one.” Beth Pennington