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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

May 23, 2017 - 8:02am -- Anonymous

It’s the week before Memorial Day.  What traditions do you and your family have around this day?  When my grandparents were alive, they called it Decoration Day.  It was a time when families made the journey to cemeteries to decorate the graves of their loved ones for the summer.  Gran would tell me that as relatives or friends passed her house, they would stop and tell her, they’d be back for lunch.  So all morning would be spent in preparing food for those that would be coming back for an afternoon visit. 

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. It’s a great time to have the conversation you’re your family about who you know that has served our country?  It was originally known as Decoration Day, and it originated in the years following the Civil War.  The Civil Way claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.  It became an official federal holiday in 1971 and is celebrated across the nation with parades and special services at cemeteries honoring all branches of military and their ultimate sacrifice.

Did you know that the Poppy is a symbol of Memorial Day?  It seems that in the war-torn battlefields, the red field poppy was one of the first plants to grow.  Today, poppies are both the symbol of loss of life as a symbol of recovery and new life, especially in support of those who were damaged physically or emotionally. 

Did You Know, that each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time? It is also customary to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon, then raise it full staff.

Why is it important that we think about Memorial Day as more than a three day weekend with lots of consumer sales?  Besides the history of the day, it’s a time for all of us to pause and remember all Americans who have fought in the past to keep this country safe and free.  It can be a time to talk about all the branches of the military, and how they have made our lives better.  Check out the local services or parades that are going on in your community and consider making it part of your new traditions.  Maybe take flags or flowers to put on the graves of men and women who served in past wars or pause at 3:00 p.m. for  the National Moment of Remembrance.  Let us never forget or take for granted that we live in the land of the free, because of the brave.