The Meaning of Memorial Day

The Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is more than the unofficial beginning of summer with the opening of the swimming pool or the snow cone place down the road. It’s more than hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. We celebrate it, but why?

Simply put, Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is the day we honor those who died in military service to our country. On this day, we are to remember those who sacrificed their lives to provide freedom for all.

After the Civil War, women’s groups and religious organizations began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers. By the late 1800s, many cities and towns observed Memorial Day and several states had declared it a legal holiday. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress.

In 1915, after the publication of the poem In Flanders Fields, by Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae, many Americans began wearing red poppies on Memorial Day. (When I was a child, everyone seemed to wear a poppy in remembrance. Now you don’t see them much.)

After World War I, Memorial Day became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars.

At Arlington National Cemetery, on Memorial Day weekend, the graves are decorated with a small flag. It’s an impressive and moving sight – row after row of headstones, each it its own flag.

On the Sunday before Memorial Day, hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists bearing American flags leave the Pentagon parking lot, travel across the Memorial Bridge, ending up at the Vietnam Memorial. Known as Rolling Thunder, these men and women honor our Prisoners of War and those who are Missing in Action.

On Memorial Day, itself, Americans are asked to stop whatever they are doing at 3:00 p.m. and “observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect.”

A suggestion: Watch or attend the Memorial Day Concert, if you can. It starts at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 27 and is held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It’s also shown on PBS at 8:00 p.m. The concert is meaningful, uplifting and it might make you cry. It will also make you proud to be an American.


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.


God Bless America

And all those who have served

MDGOP Candidate