Friday, May 22, 2015

Remembering Those Who Died in Service ~ Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all who have died in our nation’s service.  It began when residents would place flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. Southern states did not acknowledge Memorial Day until after World War I, when it was expanded to include all soldiers who fought in any war for our country.  Several states in the South set aside a day for honoring the Confederate war dead, and Florida's Confederate Memorial Day is April 26. When it falls on a Sunday, celebrations move to Monday. 

The poppy as a symbol can be attributed to Moina Michael, a Georgia native, who was inspired by John McCrae’s battlefront-theme poem “In Flanders Fields,” which begins “In Flanders fields the poppies blow…Between the crosses row on row.”  Ms. Michael vowed to wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. She came up with the idea to sell silk poppies to raise money for disabled veterans. Known as the “Poppy Lady”, she wrote this:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

May 30 was the original Memorial Day, but the government changed it for a 3-day weekend.  While it is widely heralded as the kick-off weekend for summer, there are many activities in the Tampa Bay area to honor service men and women who died to preserve our freedom.  Fireworks, parades, concerts and beach celebrations abound, and this is just a short list:

  • Florida Orchestra Pops plays a "Stars and Stripes Hit Parade" in three locations (
  • Food trucks, live music and fireworks take place at Channelside Bay Plaza (
  • Pasco County Memorial Day Parade begins in Land O' Lakes
  • Sunset Ceremony in Largo
  • Oldsmar Freedom Fest
  • Family FunFest at the Armed Forces History Museum
  • Remembrance Ceremony, American Legion USS Tampa Post 5
....And much more

The National Moment of Remembrance is 3 p.m. local time.  Americans are asked “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’.”  Program this into your cell phone and share the time with anyone near you.  Taking a few moments or hours’ time on a vacation day to remember fallen soldiers is such a small sacrifice compared to what was given by those being honored. 

Ways to Commemorate Memorial Day with your Family:
  • visit a cemetery and put flags or flowers out for fallen soldiers
  • go to a memorial and talk about what it means
  • fly the American flag half staff until noon.
  • fly a POW/MIA flag
  • participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. wherever you are
  • contemplate what freedom means and the classic phrase that “freedom isn’t free” 
  • thank those who serve today by honoring those who died in the past
  • teach your children and grandchildren about freedom and the cost to those who gave their lives and those who live and serve to protect it. 

Kids go to high school dances, babies are born, people complete their schooling and find opportunity. All the freedom and security we take for granted is a direct result of the sacrifice of our nations veterans:

It is the Soldier

 It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
 It is The Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us Freedom of the press.
 It is The Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us Freedom of speech.
 It is The Soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us Freedom to demonstrate.
 It is The Soldier, not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
 It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
 It is The Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag and
 Whose coffin is draped by the flag
 Who allows the protester to burn the flag
by Charles M. Province

Although this day is primarily to honor those warriors from the past who have sacrificed so much, let us not forget the sons and daughters of our nation who are standing guard over our freedoms around the world.  For those who lose faith in todays youth, a quick trip to a current Area of Operation would fully restore that faith.  Americas warriors of are in a word, magnificent.

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