History of Memorial Day

History of Memorial Day

This is a discussion on History of Memorial Day within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Before everyone starts making plans for the three-day weekend, I ask you to read...and remember why this holiday is special. Everyone who died serving our ...

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Thread: History of Memorial Day

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    History of Memorial Day

    Before everyone starts making plans for the three-day weekend, I ask you to read...and remember why this holiday is special. Everyone who died serving our country signed their name on the dotted line...and wrote a blank check to the United States of America. Please--think of those who died serving us...If you want some names to remember, here's a few:

    Capt Denny Gingerich, USMC - Killed in June 2003 upon return from Iraq
    1Lt Roslyn L. Schulte, USAF - Killed 20 May 2009 by an IED just north of Kabul, Afghanistan (Intel officer killed by bomb in Afghanistan - Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Air Force Times)



    Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).

    While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868.

    It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

    Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

    The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

    It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

    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. 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.

    Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day.

    While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

    There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

    In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day.

    More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

    Please read Gen Logan's General Order #11.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Array DaveJay's Avatar
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    And for those of you who have a flag pole, please fly the flag correctly on Memorial Day...

    It is the only day where in the morning, you raise the flag to full-staff, then lower it to half-staff until Noon...

    Then you raise the flag to full staff for the remainder of the day...
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for posting, for some of us, Memorial Day will always be more meaningful than others. If you don't mind Sigguy, I want to add this:

    I am actually already on my 4 day weekend, so my Memorial Day weekend has arrived. But I just wanted to take a moment, and remind people about Memorial Day. As much as I enjoy barbecues, swimming pools, good sales, and summer fun, that all doesn't really have to do with why American has Memorial Day. It is supposed to be a day where people recognize those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation. Those that gave their "last full measure," and gave selflessly of themselves, so that others may enjoy freedoms. It is about honoring the patriots who have gone before us, and given their blood for the "tree of liberty."

    I am not saying that people shouldn't enjoy their Memorial Day weekend. The people of this nation have the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I actually think that enjoying those things is a great way to pay homage to the sacrifice of veterans. Freedom is one of the things that makes this country great, so enjoy the fact that you can get together with your family for a barbecue. Because there are people elsewhere in the world who don't get that chance. Living life to the fullest, is showing respect for those that died to give all of us the ability to do so. No man goes to war hoping that the country he is defending is full of miserable people, if that was the case, the nation wouldn't be worth fighting for. But the American way of life is worth fighting for, and thankfully better men than me have gone before, and paid the debt for the rest of us. And brave men and women continue to do so on a daily basis.

    So I think everyone should enjoy their weekend, but I don't think that asking someone to take one hour a day (for a total of 3 on a 72 hour 3 day weekend), and reflect on the subject is that much. Hell, you could just watch the movie Gettysburg, or We Were Soldiers, or Tora! Tora! Tora! or the opening to Saving Private Ryan, but instead of watching it for entertainment value, use it as a way to reflect on those who were actually in those battles, and be thankful for their sacrifice. I would say try to place yourself their, but combat really is impossible to describe to someone who has never been in it, but you could try to do so.

    Fly the flag outside your house, and treat it right. I personally think every house should have a flag flying every day it is appropriate (so not in bad weather), and treat the flag right. Don't let it touch the ground, raise it quickly, and lower it with respect, if you want to fly it after sunset, have a light source on it. None of that is very hard to do, so why don't more people fly the flag? It takes under 5 minutes a day to put one up in the morning, and take down at night, and to treat it right. That isn't much of a sacrifice to show love for the nation that provides us all with such freedom.

    If you really want to appreciate the sacrifices of the people who have died to make the nation great, go find a copy of the book Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand. I just finished reading it yesterday. It was well worth the few hours it took me to read, and anyone who would disagree with that, probably wouldn't of made it this far in this blog post that is oozing patriotism, and love for my country.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion, and really, since this is a free country, people can do whatever they want with their Memorial Day weekend. No one is going to force American citizens at bayonet point to go to a parade, or a memorial service, or to put flowers on a veteran's grave. But I think that if people stepped out of their busy lives for a minute, and really reflected on the sacrifice millions of complete strangers have made so that they can live the way they want, America as a culture may not take their freedoms for granted so much. But I am just a knuckle-dragging grunt, so what do I know?
    It is from my personal blog where I reflect about the process of transitioning from Marine to civilian, and a number of random other things. I think the crowd here might enjoy it. And I'd like to add my good friend TJ, who died while we were in Iraq, to the list of those who people can remember if they want.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array Herknav's Avatar
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    I just wish people would stop confusing Memorial Day with Veteran's Day. There are two completely different foci.
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    In Memory : Sergeant Major Richard A. Schaaf HHC 1st Battalion 7th Cav 1st Cav Div KIA 08 August 66 Ia Drang Valley RVN

    http://virtualwall.org/ds/SchaafRA01a.htm
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    Senior Member Array TomEgun's Avatar
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    Lets not forget to raise our glasses this weekend for those who didn't make it home. " Less we forget"
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  7. #7
    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herknav View Post
    I just wish people would stop confusing Memorial Day with Veteran's Day. There are two completely different foci.
    Agreed!!! +1000

    Forgot to add these Airmen to my OP:

    8 Airmen killed by an Afghan pilot (http://www.airforce-magazine.com/DRArchive/Pages/2011/May%202011/May%2002%202011/AirmenKilledinKabulShootingIdentified.aspx)

    Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., 37, of Knoxville, Tenn. He was assigned to the 56th Operations Group at Luke AFB, Ariz.

    Maj. Philip D. Ambard, 44, of Edmonds, Wash. He was with an assistant professor of foreign languages at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO

    Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, 41, of Gadsden, Ala. He was a C-27 instructor pilot assigned to the 99th Flying Training Squadron at Randolph AFB, TX

    Maj. David L. Brodeur, 34, of Auburn, Mass. He was an 11th Air Force executive officer at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK

    Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, 40, of New Haven, Conn. He was assigned to Headquarters Air Combat Command at Langley-Eustis

    Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, 35, of Hockley, Tex. He was assigned to the 25th Operational Weather Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz

    Capt. Charles A. Ransom, 31, of Midlothian, Va. He was a cyberspace airman with the 83rd Network Operations Squadron at Langley-Eustis, VA

    MSgt. Tara R. Brown, 33, of Deltona, Fla. She was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at JB Andrews, Md

    These folks were assigned to my unit in Afghanistan, the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, mentoring the Afghan National Army Air Force. They were killed by a disgruntled pilot...who I knew.
    Magazine <> clip - know the difference

    martyr is a fancy name for crappy fighter
    You have never lived until you have almost died. For those that have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know

  8. #8
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    I'll be taking time out to remember the 269 EOD Techs from all four services that are currently listed on the EOD Memorial. About 100 of those have died in Iraq and Afghanistan (Our "IED Wars), 15 last year.

    That number does not include two Air Force EOD Techs lost just last Friday. So if you're looking for someone to remember in your prayers..........
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  9. #9
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    Remember the fallen.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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    VIP Member Array Paco's Avatar
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    Great thread.

    If I may, I would like to add another name. Brian Craig was a childhood buddy of mine and I wear a bracelet with his name everyday.

    SSG Bria Craig, 15April02 On this page is the last letter he wrote home, dated one week before his passing.
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  11. #11
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    TAPS - For Our Fallen

    There is one original set of lyrics meant to accompany the music:


    Day is done, gone the sun
    From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
    All is well, safely rest
    God is near.
    Fading light dims the sight
    And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
    From afar, drawing near
    Falls the night.
    Thanks and praise for our days
    Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
    As we go, this we know
    God is near.

    A heart rendering, full length version of TAPS that is quite beautiful...

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by First Sgt View Post
    TAPS - For Our Fallen

    There is one original set of lyrics meant to accompany the music:


    Day is done, gone the sun
    From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
    All is well, safely rest
    God is near.
    Fading light dims the sight
    And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
    From afar, drawing near
    Falls the night.
    Thanks and praise for our days
    Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
    As we go, this we know
    God is near.

    A heart rendering, full length version of TAPS that is quite beautiful...

    YouTube - &#x202a;Andre Rieu - Il Silenzio (Maastricht 2008) DIGITAL TV&#x202c;&rlm;
    Thanks for this post, and actually, the entire thread.
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    In memory of Sgt Charles "Wolf" Weiss, USMC, 2nd Recon Bn, 2nd Mar Div.
    Cpl. Jack Guthrie, USMC, 2nd LAI Bn, SSgt Molina Baltista USMC 2nd Recon Bn.

    Rip brothers. You will never be forgotten.
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