Monday, May 31, 2010

Meaning in Memorials

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.
-John McCrae

Today is Memorial Day. A memorial is intended to commemorate an event or an individual. It has become a chance to gather with friends and family and celebrate, but I challenge you this year to spend at least part of the day doing what the name suggests: remembering the men and women who have died fighting for our country.

Memorial Day was first officially observed in 1868, by placing flowers on the graves of soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I, the holiday expanded to honor Americans who died fighting in any war. In 1971, Congress included Memorial Day in the National Holiday Act.

For suggestions for how to meaningfully observe Memorial Day, visit the Department of Veterans' Affairs website or this U.S. Memorial Day website.

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