Remember Memorial Day
May 20, 2020
Although the importance of Memorial Day should be honored and remembered, Lindsay Boyce wrote to me, saying, “We would like to notify people that the whole parade and program at the high school are canceled. The American Legion Post will still be doing a 21-gun salute and playing taps at the cemetery to honor those who have passed. However, due to phase 1 still being in affect, we can’t have an audience and therefore, will not be reading the names.”
The American Legion Auxiliary will not be distributing the poppies either this year.
The event always helped the Big Sandy Museum raise funds for the coming year. The breakfast was their only fundraiser. And the money donated during that time for the poppy donation helped support vets in three Montana Veteran homes and sent girls to girls’ state. Therefore, not having the event will hurt on-going programs. According to the American Auxiliary magazine, “the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the red poppy as its official remembrance flower in the early 1920’s following World War 1. The American Legion Family distributes the poppies, which are mostly hand-made, in remembrance, honor, and support of our U.S. veterans, military, and their families.” Nation-wide over 3 million Poppies are distributed and $3.6 million raised.
Having researched the history of Memorial Day in the United States, I found it difficult to pinpoint the exact time it started. “The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs recognizes that approximately 25 places claim to have originated the holiday.” At Columbus [Georgia] State University, there is a Center for Memorial Day Research. At the University of Mississippi, there is a Center for Civil War Research that has also led research into Memorial Day’s origins. The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War. Many of the origination claims are myths, unsupported by evidence, while others are one-time cemetery dedications or funeral tributes. In 2014, one scholarly effort attempted to separate the myths and one-time events from the activities that actually led to the establishment of the national holiday.”
According to the United States Library of Congress website, “Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the Civil War’s end. Records show that by 1865, Mississippi, Virginia, and South Carolina all had precedents for Memorial Day. The earliest Southern Memorial Day celebrations were simple, somber occasions for veterans and their families to honor the dead and tend to local cemeteries.”
Let us all find a way to remember to honor and support our nation’s heroes.