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Memorial Day

Posted by john h on 5/31/04 at 19:08 (151648)

Memorial Day was established shortly after the Civil War in 1868. The tradition of playing Taps at military funerals also began at that time. I believe it was a Northern General who came up with the idea of a Memorial Day. A little known fact is that Arlington Natonal Cemetary is on land that was confiscated from General Robert E. Lee after the war ended. There are approximately 248,000 personed buried at Arlington. There were 600,000 lives lost during the Civil War. More than any other war in our history. We lost 400,000 men and women during WWII, 57,000 in Korea and 58,000 in Vietnam. Martha Ray of Bob Hope and USO fame is buried at Ft Bragg in Kentucky. She was sort of a folk hero with the Green Berets during the Vietnam war frequently going deep into bad guy land to visit with the troops. She was also a nurse and on occasion attended to casualities.

Re: Memorial Day

Dr. Z on 5/31/04 at 20:55 (151653)


Re: Memorial Day

Kathy G on 6/01/04 at 08:53 (151677)

Thanks for some interesting info, John. I didn't know that about Martha Ray.

So many people say it that it's become a cliche but I still can't get over the feeling I got when I first saw Arlington Cemetery. It's one thing to hear or read the numbers but it's another to see all those gravestones. And that doesn't include the many who died in the line of duty who are not buried there.

That, and the Vietnam Wall, remain two of the most moving sites I've ever seen.

This year, it seemed, young people realized that Memorial Day is more than a day to kick off summer or have big sales at the local malls.

Re: Memorial Day

john h on 6/01/04 at 11:19 (151710)

More on Memorial Day. When I was a child it was customary for all the schools to pass out small paper poppy flowers to celebrate Memorial Day. I do not remember when the custome stopped but its origins comes from a famous poem:

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.


Re: Memorial Day

Pauline on 6/01/04 at 12:55 (151715)

I remember this too. It can't be that looooooong ago.

Re: Memorial Day

Suzanne D. on 6/01/04 at 13:35 (151717)

This was one of the poems we were required to memorize and stand and recite in the 7th grade, John! I can still quote it all, word for word. (Of course I can hardly remember what I did two days ago, but the long-term memory is still there! :) )

I gave a donation to a lady a couple of weeks ago who was handing out paper poppies for the American Legion Auxiliary. I told her I remembered doing that when I was in high school. All of us girls who were chosen to attend Kentucky Girls State to learn about how government works were asked to help with the poppies as the American Legion helped fund our trip.

Suzanne :)

Re: Confused Canadian

wendyn on 6/01/04 at 21:37 (151748)

Okay - I have a weird question.

We don't 'have' Memorial Day, but I know the Flanders Field poem. We associate it with Remembrance day on November 11. I believe that our Remembrance day is the same as what you recognize on Memorial day.

Do Americans recognize Remembrance day?

While we're on the topic of confusion...do you know that Canadians have different money than Americans. You would not believe how many Americans I met in Boston who did not realize that. They also didn't realize that there was a different exchange rage (i.e. it cost me 1.39 to buy 1.00 US).

I wondered if that was a common misconception, or if I just happened to run into the few people who don't know that.

Re: Confused Canadian

john h on 6/01/04 at 21:49 (151749)

No doubt about your money in my mind Wendy. I sometimes get some of your coins that want work in our vending machines. The people who probably do not know about Canadian money are from New Jersey.

I suspect that since Canada fought in WWI that they may also have military personnel buried in Flanders Field and November 11th is a common date to both Canada and U.S. in memoralizing the dead.

I think I told you my Uncle enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army in 1940 prior to the U.S. entering WWII. He was KIA around 1943.

Re: Confused Canadian

wendyn on 6/01/04 at 22:08 (151751)

John, the one particularly confused woman was from Georgia. Her husband was attending the course we were on, and she brought up the money confusion while we were having a glass of wine at the reception.

Her hubby is in the US Air Force, and I'm not sure if he was as confused as she was - or if he just had no idea how to explain it to her.

Her original question was why there is a different price listed for Canadian and US on paperback books. She thought that perhaps they were actually charging Canadians more to buy American books (i.e. if I went into a store in Boston, they would charge me more because I'm Canadian). Like they ask you for your passport when you buy a book....

I made a valiant attempt to explain foreign exchange, but I just confused her more. I wasn't sure if was my head cold or the wine - I ended up almost as baffled as she was.

There was at least 2 other people who were surprised with the money thing, but I don't remember as much about them. In particular, whether or not they were from New Jersey.


Re: Confused Canadian

Dorothy on 6/01/04 at 23:17 (151752)

Well, in the U.S., November 11 is Veteran's Day and used to be called Armistice Day (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...).
As for what is called Memorial Day in the U.S. and is increasingly only or mainly associated with those who died in military service according to everything one sees/hears anymore, that is not what I remember were its origins; I learned that Memorial Day is for remembering and reflecting on all those who have passed away, a day for remembering - and that it differs from Armistice/Veterans Day in that the latter is for remembering and honoring those who died in combat/military service.
I also learned that poppies were associated with Armistice/Veterans Day but that the peonies that bloomed close to Memorial Day were associated with decorating the gravesites of loved ones who have passed on.
So as Memorial Day is increasingly associated with people who have died in military service, I have become confused. It's as if to gradually, without announcement, change Mother's Day to Auntie's Day or something. And don't we say in Canada, 'Awn-tee'?? rather than 'Ant-ee'?? But then I may be 125% all wet.

Re: Confused Canadian

wendyn on 6/02/04 at 06:43 (151762)

Dorothy - I sometimes saw auwnt and sometimes ant. Weird.

Re: Confused Canadian

john h on 6/02/04 at 09:47 (151781)

Dorothy: Historically speaking Memorial Day did begin in 1868 following the Civil War. It was began by a Northern General to memoralize the 600,000 military killed during the war. Every history book I have read puts this out as the facts. It has over time changed and was often treated different in the North and South.

Re: Confused Canadian

Dorothy on 6/02/04 at 10:53 (151785)