Red Poppies on Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer as friends and families gather together for picnics and fun. It’s a time to shake off the blahs of cooler weather and to enjoy the warm afternoons of late May as we anticipate a joyful summer with our loved ones.

All of these are wonderful things to celebrate, but we should also take time to reflect on the real reason for Memorial Day – to remember and honor those who have sacrificially given their lives in service to our country. 

I’ll admit, I get caught up in the joy of the three-day weekend, and I don’t take as much time to reflect on the true meaning of this national holiday as I should. So what can we do this year to help ourselves and others make Memorial Day more meaningful and to revive the traditional observance of it?

Perhaps you could wear a red poppy flower. Although you may not be familiar with this custom, wearing a red poppy is a long-standing Memorial Day tradition. 

It all started with a woman named Moina Belle Michael, who was so inspired by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” that she wrote a poem of her own in 1918 called “We Shall Keep the Faith.” She pledged to not forget the sacrifices of those who had lost their lives in war as well as those who were surviving veterans.

She started a campaign to wear red silk poppies, the flowers from “In Flanders Fields,” which quickly spread to over 50 countries. Disabled veterans made silk poppies, and the profits went to the rehabilitation of veterans as well as to help provide for their dependents. The red poppy became a symbol of support for veterans. When she died in 1944, over two hundred million dollars had been raised for the cause to which Moina had devoted her life.

So this Memorial Day, wear a red poppy. And when someone asks you about it, you can tell them the story of Moina Belle Michael and how one woman made such a difference in so many lives. It’s a wonderful way to help remind people of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

And be sure to take a moment out of your weekend and pray for our military troops, and for the families who have lost their loved ones.

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

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,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

From the poem “We Shall Keep the Faith” by Moina Belle Michael.

As a way of saying thank you to military families, we invite all who are serving, or have served in the Armed Forces and their families to join CRISTA Camps and Spirit 105.3 for a free, fun day of food, games, and boating at Island Lake Camp in Poulsbo.  Monday May 27 from 11am-7pm.  Click here for more info.

Remembering our brave troops,

Martha

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