If you’ve had a Bellingham cremation for a loved one who was a military veteran, then Memorial Day will have special meaning for you personally. it’s important to continue to remember their military service to America and the service of every other military veteran who has died, whether in war and after all long, fruitful life.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that began as a special day known as Decoration Day. Ins some parts of rural America, Memorial Day is still called by this name.
Decoration Day was established in 1868, by the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization of Union military veterans). Decoration Day was designated as a day for all American citizens to decorate the graves of Civil War veterans with flowers.
The first Decoration Day in the United States was observed on May 30, 1868. This date was chosen for practical reasons. One was that flowers would be in bloom everywhere in the country and the other was that there was no specific Civil War battle with an anniversary on that day.
The first large-scale observance of Decoration Day happened that year in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. A ceremony was held where flowers were laid on both Union and Confederate veterans’ graves, and then prayers and hymns followed.
The name “Memorial Day” as an alternate name for Decoration Day didn’t appear until 1882, and it would not replace Decoration Day as the official name of this commemoration day until well after the end of World War II.
In 1967, the United States government legally declared that the last Monday in May would be Memorial Day. However, Memorial Day did not become a federal (national) holiday until 1971.
After the massive losses of a generation of young men across the globe during World War I, Decoration Day practices changed from just putting flowers on Civil War military veterans’ graves to placing flowers on the graves of every United States military veteran, regardless of whether they served in wartime or not and independent of any specific war.
In 1915, after she read “In Flanders Field,” by poet John McCrae, Moina Michael wrote “We Shall Keep Faith.” The poem was a call for Americans to wear red poppies on Memorial Day (they are also traditionally worn on Veterans Day).
Moina put her poem into action by selling red poppies in her community on Memorial Day and using the proceeds to assist needy military veterans.
Red poppies are still a popular flower that is used for Memorial Day. However, instead about 30 years ago, people stopped wearing red poppies, and instead began placing them on the graves of military veterans.
Each American should take time on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice that many men and women have made on our behalf as citizens of the United States. Many of these military veterans were barely adults when they joined the service and died, never having the opportunity for full and happy lives. We should remember and express appreciation for what they gave and what they lost.
A good way to remember is to go to a cemetery – either a familiar or unfamiliar one – in your community and places flowers on each grave with a military gravestone. Don’t forget to decorate the graves of your own family members who were also military veterans.
If you have an American flag at your home, you can also fly it at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day. The flag should be raised in the early morning to full height for a second and then dropped to the half-staff position. Then, after noon, the flag should be raised to its full height again.
For information about celebrating Memorial Day aftter a Bellingham cremation, our compassionate and experienced team at Moles Farewell Tributes & Crematory – Bayview Chapel is here to help.