We celebrate Memorial Day on May 28, 2018, but we often forget that this federal holiday was originally called Decoration Day. It was first established in 1868 as a day to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War. Ceremonies took place in Arlington National Cemetery where people decorated graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers with flags and flowers.
In 1971, the holiday officially became known as Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May. Americans observe the day with parades, family gatherings, visits to cemeteries to place flags on the graves of those who have died in wars, and flying flags and placing flag decorations on homes, businesses, and government buildings.
I remember when artificial poppies were distributed on that day to commemorate U.S. military personnel who died in wars. The remembrance Poppy originated with Moina Michael who noted in a poem that the red Poppy represented soldiers who perished in wars and the flower symbolized that the “blood of heroes never dies.” In 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) began to sell poppies nationwide. People attached the memorial poppy on their clothing. My parents wore them on Memorial Day. However the Poppy is no longer used in the United States but is popular during Remembrance Day on November 11 in England and other countries.
While all of these observances take place this year, I think of Memorial Day and celebrate on its original date May 30. Why? Because that is the day our daughter, Karen, was born. We called her the memorable baby and announced her birth with a long poem about this preemie who weighed less than 4 pounds 14 ounces. That meant she had to be placed in an “isolette” in Foster Memorial Hospital, Ventura, CA. It was a memorable day when the doctor finally let us take her home. So Happy Birthday, Happy Memorial Day May 30, Karen Linda!