Rootprints - May 26, 2021
What’s the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day we pause to honor the countless veterans who have served our country. Memorial Day, celebrated in the month of May, commemorates men and women who have passed while in military service, particularly those who died in combat or because of wounds sustained in battle. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress and is now celebrated annually on the last Monday in May.
Veterans Day, celebrated in November, is a day to thank and honor ALL military members who have served our country, in wartime or peacetime, whether they have perished or survived.
Symbolism of the Poppy and Memorial Day
In the battlefields of Europe, the common red field poppy was one of the first plants to emerge after World War l. Seeing the poppies scattered throughout the battlefield surrounding his artillery position in Belgium, John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician, was inspired to write the poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915. In 1918, an American woman named Moina Michael was compelled to make a personal pledge after reading “In Flander’s Fields” and wrote the poem “We Shall Keep the Faith.” From that day forward, Moina vowed to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance. Thus, the symbolism of wearing a single red poppy was formed to remember those killed in the Great War. Old Farmer's Almanac. “Memorial Day 2021.”
Sources: Old Farmer's Almanac, www.almanac.com/content/when-memorial-day. “We Shall Keep the Faith.” First World War Poems - We Shall Keep The Faith by Moina Michael, www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/moina-michael-we-shall-keep-faith.htm
“We Shall Keep the Faith” by Moina Michael, November 1918
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields, Sleep sweet – to rise anew! We caught the torch you threw And holding high, we keep the Faith With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red That grows on fields where valor led; It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies, But lends a lustre to the red Of the flower that blooms above the dead In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red We wear in honor of our dead. Fear not that ye have died for naught; We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought In Flanders Fields.
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