As this 151st Memorial Day approaches I would again like to say a few words about this important day to our community.
“Memorial Day” is held on the final Monday of May each year and is a day of remembering the men and women who have perished while serving this country in the military. It was first named “Decoration Day” then changed to “Memorial Day” in 1882.
On Memorial 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 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 it 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.
The proper way to wear a “Poppy” is to wear it on their right side; the red represents the blood of all those who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those who didn’t have their loved ones return home, and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.
The leaf should be positioned at 11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time World War I formally ended.
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.”
And as President George Washington stated “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 wares were treated and appreciated by their country.”
Kelly Hopkins is Senior Vice Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6710.