Did you know? Memorial Day started out as “Decoration Day” during the aftermath of the American Civil War, as a way to ensure that the thousands of Americans who died in shockingly short order, would not be forgotten. The origin of this practice is hard to pin down, but it was originally celebrated in northern states on May 30th, which specifically did not coincide with any battle, so that all soldiers could be honored equally. For reasons of their own, the South celebrated their own Decoration Day on a date different from the North.
By WWI, Decoration Day had become Memorial Day, and was celebrated all over the country on the last Monday in May. It was also at this time that Memorial Day grew to encompass the fallen soldiers of all wars, not just the Civil War. In a fit of passion, an army doctor wrote “Flanders Fields” after presiding over the funeral of a fallen soldier. The vivid imagery of the poppy flower as nature’s memorial to the dead is now a worldwide emblem of Memorial Day, adopted for Veteran’s Day as well.
Today, Memorial Day honors of fallen soldiers certainly, but also celebrates America’s freedom. It is also a day to donate to veterans’ groups through the sale of the now iconic poppy flowers. The poppy is now seen everywhere on Memorial day, emblazoned on everything from clothing to bright red poppy lapel pins. Many organizations make special edition poppy versions of their products, with proceeds going towards veterans affairs organizations.
I’m personally a big fan of Memorial Day, not only because it’s important to remember the men and women who gave literally everything they had to preserve the freedoms we enjoy every day, but also because it falls right next to, and sometimes on, my birthday. So poppies for me are both memorial and celebratory (and the vacation day isn’t a bad birthday gift!). If you can’t find someone selling poppies around this Memorial Day, be sure to check us out: our poppy lapel pins are a great tribute.