Friday, May 27, 2016

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day


From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

Today - a little History lesson about Memorial Day. But first, a little background about our family. My husband and I grew up in Canada, where November 11th is called Remembrance Day instead of Veterans Day, and it is then that we honor the memories of those who died while serving in the armed forces. In May, we do have a long weekend, but it is Victoria Day, and was begun in 1845 to mark Queen Victoria's birthday. Hey, if Americans still get a holiday every year for George Washington's birthday, it's not that weird for Canadians to still get one for the Queen's birthday.

So you see, we grew up with the May long weekend really being the kick-off to summer. Here in the USA, however, the May long weekend has a different and more solemn background, so even if we are enjoying a three-day weekend with cookouts or a trip to the beach, we should never gloss over the reason for the holiday.

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

Most of us know that Memorial Day is intended to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, but unless we're from a military family, we might not know much more than that. Here's a quick history lesson.


  • The day was originally known as Decoration Day, and started following the War Between the States. By the late 1860s, Americans in many towns had begun the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers in the springtime.
  • On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance on May 30th. He chose that date because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. ~ General John A. Logan
  •  On that first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5000 participated in decorating the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
  • By 1890 each of the northern states had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many southern states continued to honor their dead on separate days until after WWI. 
  • After WWI, the day became known as Memorial Day and included commemoration of American military personnel who died in all wars.
  • In 1968, an act of Congress designated the last Monday in May as the official federal holiday, rather than May 30th. The change went into effect in 1971. A few southern states still have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead.
  • In 1922 the VFW began selling poppies as a remembrance of those who died serving the country. The idea was inspired in 1915 by the poem In Flanders Fields. (Similar poppies are sold and worn as a remembrance in Canada and Europe for Remembrance Day on November 11th.)
  • A National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in 2000, asking that 3pm local time be set aside for all Americans -
To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps'.

  •  The traditional observance, the US flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to half-staff, where it remains until noon, then is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the one million men and women who gave their lives in service, and at noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to continue the fight for liberty and justice. The POW-MIA flag may be flown on all Federal and US Military Installations on Memorial Day, and is to be half-staffed until noon along with the national flag.
  • Since the 1950s, soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington, then patrol throughout the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. More recently, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts have observed a similar practice at cemeteries in St. Louis, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania.



For the past several years, we have marked Memorial Day by attending the parade in Westminster. Since Landon has been in Civil Air Patrol, he has marched with members of his squadron in the parade every year. The parade includes other auxiliaries (like JROTC), many veterans groups, and historical societies, along with marching bands and groups with patriotic floats or displays. The parade proceeds through town and ends with a ceremony at the cemetery. Because we live so close to several battlefields of the Civil War, and the armies marched right through these towns and fields, there is a long history here.

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day


From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day



From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

From the High School Lesson Book - Memorial Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com - a brief history lesson about Memorial Day

For more information about the history and observance of Memorial Day, see the website US Memorial Day

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