Monday, May 26, 2014

The Foundations of Memorial Day

It’s that time of year again: the spring semester has come to a close, the graduation festivities are winding down, and Memorial Day is right around the corner. Many view Memorial Day as a day out of the office and into the backyard with family and friends for an old fashioned barbecue. We enjoy the long weekend, the promise of good weather, and the endless stream of commercials for mattress sales. People tend to see it as the unofficial start of summer and not what it truly is.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was created as a day to remember the fallen soldiers of the American Civil War. Families decorated the graves of the soldiers with flags and flowers. In the early 1900s, the holiday was extended to remember all of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. The holiday was originally celebrated every year on May 30 but was later changed to the fourth Monday in May to create a three-day weekend. Since the beginning of the American Civil War roughly 1.3 million soldiers have died in active combat. So while you are grilling burgers and hot dogs, take a moment to remember one of these soldiers that gave his or her life for their country.

World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.
In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae
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.

Guest Blogger: Rob Canobbio
Second Year Graduate Student, Secondary Social Studies Education



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