Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

Hello all,
I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend, and also took a moment to remember the sacrifices of those who have fought for our country.

The evolution of Memorial Day is interesting. I looked it up in two of our library databases, Daily Life Online and Credo Reference.

Originally known as Decoration Day, the practice of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers started before the end of the Civil War. For a time, this observation was conducted separately by Northerners and Southerners, with those in the Confederate states observing the day anywhere between April 26 and June 13 and those in the Union states celebrating in late May. In 1868, Union general John A. Logan proposed May 30 as the day for “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

In 1876 the federal government recognized May 30 as the official Decoration Day observance. When the holiday was extended after World War II to honor the dead of all wars, it was renamed Memorial Day. Since 1950, by congressional request, the day has also been set aside to pray for permanent peace.

This beautiful image of a poppy was taken from freephoto.com. It is by Ian Britton. The association of poppies with fallen soldiers was popularized by the poet John McCrae, who wrote the lines “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.” Flanders was the site of heavy fighting during World War I, and for many who wrote about it later, the poppy came to symbolize both the beauty of the landscape and the blood that was shed there. Source: Credo Reference

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