Reason to Remember
By Cheyenne Donald
All gave some, some gave all
Hey. Let’s have a little chat.
Memorial Day is about to be here, and before you mark this as just a 3 day weekend, or the beginning of summer, road closures, parades and BBQs, let’s have some real talk.
This is not just another 4th Monday in May. This is THE day we have set aside for Memorial, to talk story and connection, of those who gave everything for a future they didn’t get to be in.
We do this every year. We come together and create a space for memory. We stand proud. We use words like Hero, because we know they have given everything so that we can be here today. Because they believed in something bigger than themselves.
This weekend, look for Gold Star Families. The letters, and boxes they hold. Listen to their stories, their dreams, their grief and their hope as they share their loved ones with us and keep their memories alive.
Visit and see the flowers and decorations upon graves of the fallen. Support the parades, festivals, and other community gatherings. Let’s break bread together. Let’s celebrate the gift those who serve give us in their sacrifice.
As a community let’s create a space to engage with others, so that the feelings and emotions of loss can be recognized, honored and held safely.
A little backstory.
Let’s not sugar coat this. War is devastating. The Civil war, claimed so many lives it required a National Cemetery creation.
In the Spring of the late 1860s, countless tributes began, decorating the graves with flowers, flags and wreaths. There’s a lot of back and forth as to where this day started, and who was first, the truth is, everyone was after the same goal. To pay tribute to a life lost too soon in the conflict of war. To memorialize and sooth the grief and devastation left by the emptiness felt when the dust settled.
We give credit to Waterloo as the birthplace, because of its community wide events, closure of businesses and the residents decorating graves. But this ‘birthplace’ title was given a decade later.
Originally deemed Decoration day, it was set on the 30th of May by General John A. Logan, because that was one day there was no particular Civil War conflict, it was a neutral day to bring both sides together to mourn the mass loss of lives, and to heal the wounds of division.
The North and South really did celebrate different days of Decoration and remembrance until Memorial Day was officially recognized after WW1. This was when the holiday expanded to commemorate every life lost in war. This is when the tradition of flying the flag at half staff until noon, to represent the mourning of the soldiers we have lost, and then raising it to full staff after noon as a sign that the military rising despite the loss.
At 3 pm, we are all encouraged to take a moment of Remembrance and take a pause together. So set the alarm, and let’s take that moment of silence together.
Poppies and poems
Have you ever wondered where the poppies fit in? In WW1 a poem was written that touched many and created a Poppy as the symbol of remembrance.
A Brigade surgeon, John McCrae, spotted the poppies in the battle scarred fields as he was dealing with the carnage of that war. He wrote a poem called ‘In Flanders Field’ channeling the voices of fallen soldiers buried below the poppies.
‘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, were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling 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.
Thanks to two women that took up the cause, Poppies became a universal symbol of remembrance.
Moina Michael (a professor in Georgia) wrote a response poem called ‘We shall Keep the faith’ and vowed to always wear a red poppy, and Anna Guérin (In France) also championed the poppies symbolic power and reverence. The two women were able to get the poppies recognized as an international movement. So, as you’re getting ready for Memorial Day, don’t forget to grab your red poppies, adorn your lapel, and show your support and connection.
In fact in the US, we have national Poppy Day, it lands on the Friday before Memorial Day. You might meet people walking around with their poppies, or selling them as fundraisers for the American Legion
This is a remembrance, not your typical holiday.
Let’s remember to be kind, always, but as we grieve loss and missing connections, let’s support each other thoughtfully. This isn’t another photo op. It’s not just a 3 day weekend. This is a community support system that gives us the vision we need to see what’s important in the world.
However you feel, you can’t deny that this day has significance and meaning. It has reverence. It’s not just another day, so let’s give it the space it deserves. Find your local gathering and connect with each other.
If your looking for a place to memorialize your loved ones this Memorial Day weekend, head over to the lower part of the Redwood Deck in downtown Felton. The Downtown Felton Association will be setting up a Memorial site for Decoration and connection. Sit together, talk story, and leave photos and flowers together from the 28th-the 30th. Let’s make sure to remember together, and keep our loved ones memories alive.