Born out of the practice of gathering to honor the fallen dead of the Civil war in communities across the nation and above and below the Mason Dixon Line, the predecessor of Memorial Day, Decoration Day, was first officially proclaimed by General John Logan, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died...”
By the turn of the century it was becoming referred to as Memorial Day by many. 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.”
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war.
After WWI the day was expanded to include Americans who had fallen in all conflicts. 1967, it was made an official federal holiday. Memorial Day remained on May 30 until 1971, when it was moved to the last Monday in May as part of the Federal Uniform Holidays Act.
Beginning in 1987 Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran, introduced a measure to return Memorial Day to its traditional date. Inouye continued introducing the resolution every Congress until his death in 2012. In his introductory remarks to the bill he introduced in 1999 he stated:
“Mr. President, in our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer. My bill would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize our flag to fly at half mast on that day. In addition, this legislation would authorize the President to issue a proclamation designating Memorial Day and Veterans Day as days for prayer and ceremonies honoring American veterans. This legislation would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation.”
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
Let us remember to honor those who fell while serving their nation and protecting our freedoms. Place flags or flowers on graves, wear a poppy pin or pause, reflect and pray at 3:00pm tomorrow.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”- John 15:13, KJV