It’s so much more than that. Memorial day is a day of remembrance. Today we remember the Men and Women who have died while serving in the United States Armed forces. It is only “recently” (1971) that Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States. It was originally called Decoration Day.
In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo was chosen for it’s reputation for closing businesses, decorating graves of soldiers with flowers and flags, and holding events annually to honor the fallen soldiers.
Originally the day was to honor those lost in the Civil War. Since, the United States (and obviously many other countries) had gone through 2 World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War… and we have added others still. Memorial Day is for ALL the fallen of war, regardless of which war.
The red poppy is a remembrance inspired by a popular World War I poem called – In Flanders Field. The poppy is actually classified as a weed which is likely why t was so prevalent in the battle worn field that inspired the poem. In Flanders Field was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The tone he used was to give a voice to the fallen soldiers that were buried under the field of poppies he saw before him. To this day the poem is one of the most famous works to emerge from what we call “The Great War”.
After reading the poem herself, a Frenchwoman named Anna Guérin championed the symbolic power of the red poppy.
In Europe, the poppy is the official symbol of remembrance. Today, nearly a century after World War I ended, millions of people in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand don the red flowers every November 11 (known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day) to commemorate the anniversary of the 1918 armistice. You may recognize this date in the United States as Veteran’s Day – the day we honor all living veterans in the United States.
Here in the United States we wear the symbolic red poppy on the last Monday in May to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives fighting for our country.
I have put together a freebie for you to help reflect on the day. It contains a letter writing activity in which your learner can write a letter to an active service member, or a retired service member to say THANK YOU. This is an activity that never goes out of style. We can never thank them enough for their service! There are several writing pages in both color and color your own to choose from, instructions for the proper technique for letter writing as well as how to address an envelope.
You will also get color and black and white (Color your own) patterns for poppies and leaves. You are “on your own” to use these to create your own poppy craft. I have provided ideas for a field as well as a wreath, but the sky really is the limit!
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I hope you will join me at 3:00 pm local time in the national moment of remembrance (a moment of silence).
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