True meaning of Memorial Day

As the 150th Memorial Day approaches, I would like to remind this community what it is truly about.

Again, I have heard confusion between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day, which is held on the final Monday of May each year, is a day of remembering the men and women who have perished while serving this country in the military. Veterans Day is the day we celebrate the military service of all veterans, which is held on Nov. 11 each year. Memorial Day was first named “Decoration Day” then changed to “Memorial Day” in 1882.

On this day we decorate the graves of our war dead with flowers and flags to show our respect and honor to our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much for our Nation.

On Memorial Day, we also raise the United States flag quickly or bristly to the top of the staff and then slowly or solemnly lower the flag to the half-staff position. Our great flag remains at half-staff until noon at which time our flag is then raised back to full-staff for the remainder of the day. This is also to show our respect to our fellow Americans that have again sacrificed so much for us.

On Memorial Day, we also wear the “poppy.” This small red flower was brought to our attention by a poem, “In Flanders Fields” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915. The poem’s opening lines refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers’ graves in Flanders. So, we wear this “Poppy” to show that we remember their sacrifice as well.

It is the duty of each and every veteran to relay this message that sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance to our fellow citizens. It is the duty of each citizen to be aware of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime. So, again we must remember and show homage and our appreciation. As Calvin Coolidge stated “The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.”

As this important day comes closer I like to remind individuals of a quote by President George Washington: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

Kelly Hopkins

Sr. Vice Commander

VFW Post 6710