“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.”
Moina Michael, 1915
Moina Michael wrote a compelling poem (this page) in 1915 and actually started the tradition of selling and wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those fallen veterans serving the nation during wartime. The monies from the sale of the poppies were donated to benefit servicemen in need.
There has been much controversy over the years as to how this national day of observance surfaced. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and it is believed the official “birthplace” of the holiday was Waterloo, New York. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868, and the day was first officially observed on May 30, 1868. On this day flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
While New York State was the first northern state to officially recognize Memorial Day in 1873, by 1890 all northern states observed the holiday. Following World War I, southern states embraced the holiday to honor all fallen victims of any war — not just the Civil War.
In December 2000 the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed to help re-educate and remind American citizens about the true meaning of the holiday — it’s not just “free” day on a three-day weekend.
“I’m not a veteran, but I think it’s a very important holiday for remembering our veterans,” Major Ron Gordon, Marco Island Civil Air Patrol.
The resolution states that at 3 p.m. local time Americans should voluntarily — and in their own way — set a side a moment of remembrance for our war veterans who lost their lives for our country.
“Memorial Day is one of the two annual events honoring veterans, and on each of these days the Marco VFW Post sets flags along Collier Boulevard and on veteran’s grave sites at the Island Cemetery,” says Dave Gardner, Commander, Marco Island VFW Post #6370.
“Hundreds of flags are set on the roadsides and graves to remind people of the importance of this day when we pay respects to those who fought for our country’s and other countries’ freedoms,” he says.
“We ask that residents and guests attend these services, or if not able, to stand when our National Anthem is played in public or during TV broadcasts. We must remember our gift of freedom and be proud of our flag, the symbol of our country.”
If you go ...
A Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, at the Marco Island cemetery on Bald Eagle Drive.
All are invited to attend and honor veterans for their service to our country. There will be members of the Marco Island fire and police departments, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol, the Boy Scouts and the VFW Post.
The Marco Island Strummers will provide music, including patriotic songs and a double-bugle taps. You can bring folding chairs or blankets for this one-hour event.