Did you know that the first official Memorial Day was initially called Decoration Day?
It began as a result of the Civil War. In 1865, a small group of residents of Waterloo, NY chose May 5th to honor fallen veterans by decorating their grave stones with flowers and flags. It quickly evolved and became a town wide event and the practice was so popular that is was repeated the following year. Businesses closed to show their respect and began participating in the ceremony.
Not surprisingly, nearby towns began doing the same.
In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day, and soldiers who had died in previous wars were honored as well. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic when he declared Memorial Day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion….”
It was during that first national celebration that former Union Gen. and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, before 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
– James A. Garfield
May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
Memorial Day Symbol
It is around this time of year the Veterans Groups around the country began
selling red poppies to raise proceeds for servicemen in need.
But have you ever wondered how the poppy was chosen as a Memorial Day symbol? It began in 1915 in Georgia when Moina Michaelm, a teacher and volunteer war worker, began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.”
Ms. Michealm conceived the idea to wear red poppies after she read Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s war poem, In Flanders Field and began selling them to her friends, donating the proceeds to benefit servicemen in need.
War Memorials Then and Now
Historically, war memorials were erected to commemorate victories in battle, and the human lives lost in wartime were not even mentioned when they were created.
In the United States, where the intent of the memorial is not to glorify war, monuments are conceived and built to honor our fallen comrades.
Officially launched in 2012 by the 4thgeneration owned American company EP Henry, the HeroScaping® program helps communities pay tribute to local and national heroes by donating HardScaping™ materials for veterans’ memorials and monuments
It is through this program that concerned citizens, local organizations, product suppliers and experienced craftsmen – “HeroScapers™” – are able to join forces to conceive, create and maintain our national treasures.
To learn more about HeroScaping or to become a HeroScaper visit: http://www.ephenry.com/why-ep-henry/heroscaping/.