The Red Poppies of Memorial Day


"In Flanders Fields"

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.
John McCrae, 1915


It was this poem that inspired the symbolism of the red poppy as a sign of respect to our brave military veterans.  Amidst our celebrations this weekend we reflect on the many ways we have established to remember and honor them.

  1. There are 171 cemeteries in the United States National Cemetery System.
  2. Before its designation as a National Cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery was a plantation that belonged to Robert E. Lee
  3. The speaker who presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was President Garfield.
  4. The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was established on November 11, 1921.
  5. On the Thursday just before the Memorial Day weekend, around 1200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. 


"We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them." ~Francis A. Walker

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