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Lifestyles over 50

Memorial Day Tribute and History

Dec 09, 2022 03:47PM ● By Art Villafane
Veterans have served this country and will always honor those who have paid the ultimate price.
As a veteran, Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart and in the hearts of all veterans. No matter in what capacity veterans serve, they all know the sacrifice those honored veterans and their families have made.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many volunteers place an American flag on the graves of military personnel in national cemeteries.

The practice of honoring those who have fallen in battle dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans held annual days of remembrance for soldiers each year, covering their graves with flowers and holding public festivals and feasts in their honor. In Athens, public funerals for fallen soldiers were held after each battle, with the remains of the dead on display for public mourning. One of the first known public tributes to war dead was in 431 B.C., when the Athenian general and statesman Pericles delivered a funeral oration praising the sacrifice and valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian War — a speech that some have compared in tone to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Our nation found it fitting to reserve a day to honor those who died in service to our country. Throughout the country, there are celebrations remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Perhaps you have wondered why the poppy flower appears so much during events for veterans. Its history goes back to the early 20th century. In 1915, following the Second Battle of Ypres, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, wrote the poem, “In Flanders Fields.” Its opening lines refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers’ graves in Flanders.

In 1918, inspired by the poem, YWCA worker Moina Michael attended a YWCA Overseas War Secretaries’ conference wearing a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed over two dozen more to other attendees. In 1920, the National American Legion adopted it as its official symbol of remembrance.

It is an honored practice to take a moment during Memorial Day to think about those who gave their lives for you and your family. We would have no freedoms if it were not for our military standing ready to protect us. While many take the 3-day weekend as a start to the barbeque season, let’s keep in mind the true nature and meaning of Memorial Day.

To all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, let us bow our heads in your honor.