Monday, May 31, 2010

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Today President Obama will be visiting the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetary in Chicago while Vice President Biden will be visiting the Arlington National Cemetary.

Memorial Day is a holiday close to my heart. I served in the military from 1986-1997. Military life is not easy. For those who serve and and are veterans, thank you for giving a part of yourself to our nation.

Memorial Day was originally called "Decoration Day," and was established as a day of rememberance for those who died in service to the U.S. Nation during the Civil War. It was first proclaimed on 5 May 1868 in Waterloo, NY. (Now, I have conflicting reports on the date, also given as 1866, most sources I've found, however, give the 1868 date.)

The south refused to recoginze it until World War I. In 1915, Moina Michael wrote a poem called "In Flander's Field" which inspired the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who died during "The Great War."

In 1971, Congress passed the Holiday Act moving Memorial Day from it's traditional observance of 30 May to the last Monday in May to make it a three day holiday weekend.

I'd like to share a military poem I wrote in honor of this day.


I saw them first
when I was six,
marching in the parade,
with faded uniforms,
and frayed ribbons.
Their smiles full of remembrances
I knew nothing of.

I saw them again
when I was sixteen,
Older, weathered,
wizened, tempered.
This time their smiles hinted at
proud memories I could have, too.

I saw them next
when I was twenty-one.
I marched with them,
my uniform sharp and pressed,
medals glistening in the sun.
My hand gone.

Memories haunted, hinting of times seen,
full of destruction and despair,
from scenes of war we share.


  1. I salute all members of the armed forces, those who have put their lives on the line for freedom. There is no greater gift.

  2. Thanks, Maggie. I agree, there is no greater gift and it's nice to take a day to remember and appreciate it.


  3. You captured the glory and the sadness very well-beautiful, and tragic. Such a nice gift for us on this important day. Celia

  4. Beautiful tribute! It brought back memories of looking through photos of my dad from when he served in the Army during WWII, and then when I served in the Navy. Blessings to all who have served, are serving or will serve. K

  5. Thanks for sharing, Steph. Beautiful poem. Happy Memorial Day, all. I offer up a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for all those who have served.

  6. Beautiful poem Steph thank you for sharing it with us. I was told when I was a kid that it originally was to remember the dead period. That was what my mom told me when I was little. I see she was mistaken. I remember people wearing the poppies when I was young but you don't see them now.

  7. Hi everyone. Yes, Kathy, I remember when I was young I saw people wearing poppies, nowadays, you don't see it. I saw once in a small town in northern California. It was nice to have you all visit.