Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

In Canada, we have Remembrance Day, which is a tribute to veterans similar to Memorial Day*...except we don't do the whole barbeque-ing thing. It's a much more somber day in Canada. We traditionally have 2 minutes of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. We also buy plastic poppies to wear on our lapels/collars, expressing our support and appreciation of veterans (the proceeds supposedly go toward helping veterans in need).

Where did the poppy symbolism come from? The poem, "In Flanders Fields". I would like to share this with you for the American Memorial Day:
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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.

For more on In Flanders Fields, go to the Arlington Cemetery website.

*Meg_L mentioned in the comments that Remembrance Day is more like Veterans Day, not Memorial Day.

Trent of The Simple Dollar blog (an excellent blog, by the way) has the following to say about Memorial Day, and it's a very similar sentiment to mine:

Memorial Day is pretty much just confusing to me. It’s theoretically a day to honor fallen soldiers, but most people just go on vacation or play in the yard.

What happened to Decoration Day, which is May 30 of each year? That’s the original date created to honor those soldiers that have served our country in times of war, started after the Civil War. As the Civil War veterans began to pass away, it gradually turned into our modern day Memorial Day, which mixed some notions of American exceptionalism together with a convenient three day weekend at the beach. To me, that really waters down the point.

Charles Ives’ poem Decoration Day captures what I wish this day was – and what it could be. But it’s lost amid the jet skis and the barbecue grills.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams