Memorial Day 2021 formally known as Decoration Day, which my grandma always called it, is a federal holiday observed yearly on the last Monday of May.
Memorial Day 2021 is a day that commemorates all men and women who have died while serving in the military for the United States of America.
Growing up, it was one of my favorite holidays, It remains so today. My parents didn’t just decorate the graves of those who served in the military but all who had — and have left — this world.
We’d traverse the sometimes rugged terrain of a small rural cemetery in South Dakota where my parents would gently decorate each grave accompanied by their five children.
As a family, we would arrive at the cemetery early to listen to the service and the 21-gun salute, We’d dash over at the end to pick up the spent shells for souvenirs of the day. That was where my father’s family is buried.
Then, we’d drive about 12 miles west to pay our respects to my mother’s relatives. We’d listen to services again. We were always very quiet and my father always cautioned us not to walk on the graves.
The day was always marked by a display of red poppies on this day as a symbol of fallen soldiers. This tradition grew out of the famous poem by Canadian John McCrae known as ‘In Flander’s Fields’, where Moina Michael conceived an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honour of those who died serving the nation during war.
My mother kept a running list of all those who had passed and started shopping for flowers in April. No one was forgotten.
As the years passed, the list of those we lost has grown exponentially. They are buried in cemeteries throughout South Dakota, Nebraska and beyond.
Everyone won’t get a flower but they will be remembered.
God willing, I will be home for Day Memorial — wearing a red poppy — to help carry on a tradition my parents started 67 years ago. It is such a beautiful tradition, one I cherish.
For us, it’s not about celebrating the unofficial start of summer. It’s about honoring those who served and those we have lost. There will be laughter and likely some tears. Memorial Day is viewed as a time of honor and remembrance.
- Memorial Day: Pixabay