Memorial Day is an American holiday on which those who died in active military service are remembered. It’s a day for honoring and mourning people who’ve died while fighting to keep us safe. It’s a time many visit friends and family who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. It was traditionally observed on May 30 but is now officially observed on the last Monday in May.
John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields in 1915 as a memorial to those who died in a World War I battle fought in a region of Belgium known as the Ypres Salient. McCrae himself treated many of the soldiers injured in that battle and was particularly moved by the death of a close friend, Alexis Helmer. This poem helped popularize the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.
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.
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