Remembering our Heros - Memorial Day
As the weekend is upon us, let's take a moment to remember what the holiday is all about.
Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion (Civil War), and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery. Today, just before Memorial Day every available soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (the "Old Guard") places small U.S. flags, centered one boot length from the headstones in the Cemetery.
Memorial Day is a time, not just for family barbeques, but a time to take a moment to memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In the 1860’s an organization of union veterans established the holiday, then known as Decoration Day, as a time to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers.
But do you know why we see members of the VFW selling poppies on Memorial Day? The wearing of red poppies first began after Moina Michael wrote her poem stating
“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 began selling her poppies to her friends and family and used the monies for the benefit of servicemen in need. This tradition spread to Europe to benefit war orphans until the organ disbanded.
In 1922, the VFW began selling the poppies which in 1923 the VFW decided that the “Buddy Poppies” would be made and assembled by disabled/needy veterans who are paid for their work to provide financial assistance. In 1924 the VFW applied for and was granted the trademark for Buddy Poppy by the U.S. Patent Office. No other organization can legally use the name, so when purchasing a poppy, look for the Buddy Poppy label to verify that this is an official product of the VFW ensuring it was made by veterans in VA hospitals. The veterans are compensated for their efforts and funds are also used to provide rehabilitation programs and support for the VFW National Home for Children.
So when you see that person volunteering their time to ask if you’d like to purchase a Buddy Poppy, consider the cause and dig into your pocket to help our veterans.