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Memorial Day is when we, wear our poppies, fly our Flags and place flowers and flags on the graves of Military Personnel. Many volunteers and Volunteer Organizations march in patriotic parades. Frequently there is a reading of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Patriotic speeches are made and declarations by The President and Heads of the Armed Services are also read. We all take time to remember the Human sacrifice it has taken to establish and maintain this great Nation of ours.
Moina Michael conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for the war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
Holidays frequently lose their meaning with the passage of time, but at Union Cemetery, located on Woodside Road in Redwood City, the traditions of Memorial Day have not been forgotten. Founded in 1859, Union Cemetery houses a plot containing the graves of about 40 Northern Civil War veterans. Each year, the soldiers' resting place is adorned with flowers in a ceremony which includes music and speeches. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. And since 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program).
To help Americans re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, 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." Additionally, on January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May". On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform.
Although Memorial Day is usually meant to honor Americans who gave their life in war, we can take the time to honor our own ancestors by visiting their gravesites. Memorial Day is a great day to spend reading your family history and learning about your ancestors, especially those who died in the line of battle. Later in the day on Memorial Day, time is set aside for picnics and other outdoor activities. This Holiday generally marks the beginning of the Summer Season.