Background

Memorial Day dates back to the spring of 1865, the end of the Civil War. This war marks the most casualties in American history, which lead to the need and establishment of national cemeteries. The build-up that led to the national cemeteries were the number of mass graves used for soldiers that died from disease, exposure, and fighting. In May 1868, General John Logan encouraged families and communities to decorate the graves or towns with flowers to remember the 620,000 soldiers who died.

World War I, marked the next step in establishing the national holiday of remembering all those who have served and died for our country. World War I is also the origin of the Poppy flower symbolizing Memorial Day. Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was looking over the field where the bloody Second Battle of Ypres occurred, and poppy flowers had bloomed over the bodies of the fallen soldiers. Memorial Day has been celebrated since the end of the American Civil War; however, it was not declared a national holiday until 1971.

Wars America Has Been A Part Of:

  • Civil War (1861-1865) – 620,000 dead
  • World War I (1914-1918) – 116,708 dead
  • World War II (1939-1945) – 407,316 dead
  • Korean War (1950-1953) – 33,651 dead
  • Vietnam War (1959-1975) – 58,168 dead
  • Gulf War (1990-1991) – 382 dead
  • War in Afghanistan (2001-Present) – 4,715 dead
  • Iraq War (2003-2011) – 4,488 dead

Traditions

Raise Your Flag

To show support for the sacrifices made for our country throughout history; raise your flag, buy a flag, or give a flag. But to follow tradition, all flags are flown at half-mast until noon on Memorial Day.

Visit

Many cemeteries, memorials, and parks are dedicated to the men and women who have served our country. Furthermore, even though we associate Memorial Day with all the fallen soldiers, we can still hold up those who are with us today. Please find a local veteran community and visit with those who have served our country.

Share

Our country has experienced many deaths through war; to remember those who have given their life, share a photo or a story of a family member or friend who has served for us. Let people remember who have fought for everyones’ freedoms.

“In Flanders Field”

“In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields”.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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