Remembering. This is the purpose of Memorial Day.
It isn’t hotdogs, paddle fests, or foot races, although those are all good things. It is to remember the horror of war and the price paid by generations who have preceded us so we could have the lives we do today.
Many of us choose to put up the American flag today. Some of us visit national cemeteries for the solemn ceremonies ending in the mournful playing of Taps. Others just visit the local cemetery where the little American flags hold pride of place, and graves are newly marked with this year’s flowers.
Some of us actually look for and wear the small red poppy decoration that symbolizes this Memorial Day — which began as “Decoration Day” — as Union families remembered their Civil War dead in defense of the union.
Most Americans no longer remember why the poppy lapel decoration is sold on Memorial Day weekend throughout the world. That is a shame since its purpose is to remind us of the suffering of war and the sacrifices made to secure the freedoms and responsibilities guaranteed by our constitution. While their duty was to serve, our duty is to remember.
The horrors of the European battlefields included years of trench warfare and the use of chemical weapons. One of the worst slaughters of the war was a place known as Flanders Field, where, after the blood of battle was spilled, the fields were covered in poppies
The Haig poppy was first sold in 1919 as a symbol after the slaughter of World War I, also called ‘The Great War.’ In 1920 the American Legion adopted the poppy as a Memorial Day symbol of remembrance of the sacrifices made by America’s armed forces to secure the freedoms we enjoy today. It was also a fundraiser that raised money to help those displaced by war in Europe, especially children left orphaned and terrorized by that war.
There have been many wars since then; as if it were the human condition. Last year, Ark Valley Voice Thinking Security columnist Adam Silverman shared a remembrance that included honoring his fellow military counterparts who never made it home from war in the Middle East.
For more on the memorial flower and the poem In Flanders Field see www.arkvalleyvoice.com/memorial-day-is-more-than-paddles-picnics-and-popcorn.
Featured image: Winds on the flags at the Veterans Memorial in Poncha Springs on May 28, lowered to half-mast in honor of the Uvalde massacre of 19 children and two teachers on May 24, 2022. Today the memorial has been at the center of Chaffee County’s remembrance as we honor our veterans and those who have given their lives for this country. AVV staff photo.