Why Memorial Day

Memorial Day is celebrated in America the last Monday of May each year. While most of us look forward to Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer, we tend to forget the true significance of the day.

Memorial Day at Nevada, Iowa by Carl WycoffDuring the Civil War, America experienced the greatest loss of lives than during any other war in history. Throughout the Civil War, many organized women’s groups began to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Immediately following the war, many small towns and communities began to hold their own celebrations to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of America.

It wasn’t until May 1868 that General John Long, officially declared May 30th to be Decoration Day, where flowers were to be placed on the graves of the fallen soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. In the intervening years from 1870 through the 1960’s, while the day was not an official holiday, many states began to adopt official celebrations. However, it took until 1966 for Congress, under the urging of President Lyndon Johnson, to officially declare the last Monday in May to be known as Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is often associated with the Red Poppy. Following the death of a fellow comrade in World War 1, Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned the poem “In Flanders Fields” to honor the sacrifice made at the second battle of Ypres. In 1915, Ms. Moina Michael so loved the poem, she penned her own version to honor those lost in battle:

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.
Ms. Michael began to wear poppies on Memorial Day to honor the fallen. The movement took hold and soon the poppy became the symbol of those who lost their lives in battle and for Memorial Day itself.

Let us stop to remember this year as we clean the decks, start up the BBQ’s and enjoy our days by the pool, many have fallen in protecting our freedom. DPP resides in a community that has strong connections to our military. Many of our employees have either served or currently serve in the Guard or Reserves. We honor these men and women who give selflessly in defense of our Country.

Image: Flickr | Carl Wycoff

~Robin Weber
HR Manager, DPP

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