Memorial Day started as Decoration Day; May 1, 1865 is remembering a soldier who passed away during service in the Civil War. As a child I did not have anyone who died during a war, but our family served in every war since the Revolutionary War in 1773-1776.
Honoring the dead has been a tradition since ancient times 431 BCE, there was even a service for those that perished during the Peloponnesian War according Athens history. They gave a speech like that of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of the opening of the National cemetery in 1863.
After the Civil War in America we lost more than 600,000 solders (1861- 1865) and 88,000 from Michigan, this was a huge death toll. Citizens started Decoration Day to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War May 1, 1866.
This started out as an American holiday, with grieving families placing flowers on the graves of each fallen solider and this would help them through the great loss. There are some records that indicate the placing of flowers started after the Revolutionary War 1773-1776. Groups of women would go and put flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers.
By WWI the named had changed to Memorial Day, to honor all the fallen military from all the past wars which would include all the American wars to come, celebrated on May 30 until 1971 when holidays were national holidays were on a Monday. Now the last Monday in May each year.
There are lots of cities across the U.S. that have parades and other events honoring the fallen, what does your family do? We always went to our family graves every year, did you?
The poppy flower is used all over the world for Remembrance Day, at the start of the Armistice terms, now known as Veteran’s Day, which began after the WWI ended Nov. 11, 1918.
Veterans Day is to thank and honor all people for their military service that are currently alive and/or didn’t die in the line of duty. Sometimes people forget what the original purpose of a holiday really is, hopefully we will enjoy our family and the opening of summer with picnics and remember what Memorial Day is all about and teach our children all of the sacrifices of our nation to be a free democracy.
Have you ever had the honor of placing the American flag on the grave at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, or been able to visit The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C.? I have been able to go and see both with my family and to observer the reverence of all the flags.
They allow volunteers to help place flags on the graves you can call and ask the veterans cemetery near you. In Genesee County we have over 35,000 veterans, I am not sure how to find out how to find all the Michigan citizens that died in all the wars, but it is a lot.
We are a patriot state and have many Veterans Memorials in most cities in Genesee County. Go and visit your local area memorial even the one downtown Flint in front of the old Durant Hotel.
Do a little history with your kids and show them why we are the best country to live in, there is so much to learn about why wars were fought. Grab an American Flag and raise it high! Happy Memorial Day weekend!
Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.Mona@yahoo.com.