"DID YOU KNOW?" will be a summer series where we review issues of the Bible and the Christian faith of special interest. If you have a suggestion/question that you'd like addressed in a "DID YOU KNOW?" segment, please e-mail the coaches.
What is Memorial Day all about?
These days, most people think of Memorial Day are one of three things: (1) the first Summer day off of work, (2) the beginning of "Beach Season", or (3) a day to shop the really good sales. But Memorial Day was set up for something much more serious and somber.
Memorial Day was first declared by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic of the United States of America in 1868. The Civil War had ended 3 years before, and he wanted to set aside time to lay flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The war had cost over 620,000 soldier lives (and a total of over 1,030,000 lives - about 3% of the population). It was important to take a moment to remember those who had laid down their lives for their country (on both sides). New York was the first state to formally recognize Memorial Day in 1873, and all northern states had recognized it by 1890. It wasn't until after World War 1 that the practice was picked up by all of the southern states.
In 1915, the poet Moina Michael came up with the idea of observing Memorial Day with a red poppy, symbolizing the blood shed by heroes, who were only remembered now by the flowers on their graves.Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. In 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts began placing a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights. In 2000, Congress passed the "Moment of Remembrance" calling on all Americans to observe a moment of silence (and prayer) at 3:00 PM on Memorial Day to remember Americans who died fighting in our wars.
Take a moment today and pray about this. Thank God for living in a land of religious freedom, and thank Him for those men and women who have died to protect that freedom.