While YouTube has numerous videos, here is another recommended video about Memorial Day:
In 2000, only 28% of Americans understood the true meaning of Memorial Day (www.ngl.org). It is important that we do not forget the sacrifices of our military service members. We must pause to honor, reflect and remember the precious lives lost while fighting in war.
The facts and information that follows is Operation We Are Here's efforts to re-educate and reinform Americans regarding the importance of Memorial Day and provide meaningful ways to honor the fallen.
What is Memorial Day about? Here are some quick facts...
- Memorial Day is a national holiday set aside to honor military service members who died fighting in a war.
- Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day. On Veterans Day, November 11, we thank and honor those who served in the military.
- Major General John A. Logan, a Civil War veteran, founded Memorial Day in 1868. Following the Civil War, a small group of women went to a cemetery in Columbus, Mississippi and honored the Soldiers of both the North and the South by putting flowers on their graves.
- Memorial day was initially called Decoration Day because graves were decorated with flowers and flags. In May of 1874, Mrs. Laura D. Richardson of Knoxville, Tennessee, Chairperson of a committee to obtain flowers for decorating the graves in the national cemetery of Knoxville, saw flags in a store window. She had an idea and subsequently purchased the flags and had the local lumber mill provide the wood for tiny flagpoles. This began the movement to decorate graves with flags.
- It was changed to Memorial Day to put the emphasis on the Fallen, not the graves.
- Initially it was observed on May 30, but in 1971, when it became a national holiday, Congress changed it to the last Monday of May to create a three-day weekend. This change, some argued, would contribute to Americans neglecting the true meaning and observances of the holiday.
- Poppies, a symbol of death in war, have been worn on Memorial Day since 1915 to remember the Fallen. This movement was initiated by an American teacher named Moina Michael who read the well-known poem by a Canadian military doctor, "In Flander's Fields."
- Flags In takes place at Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's Home National Cemetery every Friday before Memorial Day. The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) honors the Fallen by placing American flags before the gravestones and niches of service members buried there. It takes approximately three hours to place the flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones. The Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend to ensure that a flag remains at each gravestone.
- Every year on Memorial Day, the president of the United States gives a speech and places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at the Arlington National Cemetery.
- "Taps" is often played at Memorial Day ceremonies.
- On Memorial Day, batteries on military installations fire a 21-gun salute to the nation's Fallen. Batteries at Naval stations and on ships also fire a salute of 21-minute guns.
- In an effort to remind and re-education Americans about the true meaning of Memorial Day, the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day was established by Congress in 2000. Americans are asked to pause at 3 p.m. local time and remember the Fallen.
- In 1989 a bill was introduced to Congress to restore the traditional day of Memorial Day to May 30 in an effort to reinstate the neglected observance of Memorial Day. Every two years following, the bill was re-introduced. Learn more...
- To this day, many Americans still do not understand the true meaning of Memorial Day, nor do they take any measures to observe Memorial Day for what it was established to be.
Meaningful Memorial Day quotes
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." -- Nathan Hale, American patriot
“The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance.” - Herman Wouk
"That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." -- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863
"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land...." -- General John A. Logan
"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic." -- General Logan, 1868
"Let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." -- General Logan, 1868
"This Memorial Day, on which we decorate their graves with the tokens of love and affection, is no idle ceremony with us, to pass away an hour; but it brings back to our minds in all their vividness the fearful conflicts of that terrible war in which they fell as victims.... Let us, then, all unite in the solemn feelings of the hour, and tender with our flowers the warmest sympathies of our souls! Let us revive our patriotism and love of country by this act, and strengthen our loyalty by the example of the noble dead around us...." -- General Logan, May 30, 1870
"All of us hope and pray that the time will come when we no longer need to dedicate memorials to men who died in battle--that we will dedicate memorials to those who live in peace--to all nations and all men." -- Senator Frank G. Moss, USS Utah Memorial ground breaking, December 7, 1971
"The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden." -- Ronald Reagan, Memorial Day speech, 1982
"To preserve the peace, we must never forget the sacrifices that have paved the way to peace." -- Bill Clinton, Memorial Day Address, 2000
"In 1999 I laid flowers at the grave of a young U.S. fighter pilot who was KIA in my village in 1945. In the Netherlands I know of schools 'adopting' graves of Allied servicemen, keeping those graves in excellent condition! Does anybody know of adopting graves in the U.S. by schools?
Sincerely, Paul Patist
Castricum, The Netherlands - Tue May 15 04:50:29 2001"
"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day." -- VFW Memorial Day address, 2002
"They defended our nation, they liberated the oppressed, they served the cause of peace. And all Americans who have known the loss and sadness of war, whether recently or long ago, can know this: The person they love and miss is honored and remembered by the United States of America." -- George W. Bush, Memorial Day Address, 2004
Here are some suggestions, opportunities, and other insights...
- Active duty military or recent veterans ~ Consider volunteering as a mentor for the TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Good Grief Camp for children and teens, May 24-27, 2013, in Arlington, VA. Learn more...
- Team Red White & Blue is hosting a CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day) on May 27 to celebrate Memorial Day. The workout will include five exercises to represent each branch of the military, each with 21 reps to signify a 21-gun salute. Join WOD for Warriors as we celebrate the living, honor our fallen, and push to our potential! Learn more...
- Help your local veterans groups (VFW, American Legion, etc.) to replace worn out grave markers/flags of deceased veterans at your local cemetery. Some civic groups or Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops put flags or flowers on veteran's graves on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Consider your cemetery's guidelines.
- Attend a Memorial Day parade. Visit VetFriends for a National Listing of Memorial Day parades. If you are able, attend the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC. All veterans of Iraq are invited to participate in this the first major public event in their honor, and in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, in our nation's capital since the end of the war last December. Learn more...
- Visit a a war memorial, war monument or a military museum.
- Fly your flag at half-mast from sunrise until noon only, then raise it briskly to the top of the staff until sunset. This may be a good time to check the condition of your flag. If it is time to replace it, do not throw it away; bring it to your local American Legion for proper disposal. Learn more about flag etiquette.
- Wear a poppy. They are available from American Legion Auxiliary volunteers and Veterans of Foreign Wars in exchange for donations to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in their local communities.
- Talk to your kids about Memorial Day. Read a book to educate them. Color a picture and send it to a Veteran (we have many to choose from HERE!) Participate in an online scavenger hunt about Memorial Day. Discuss the Medal of Honor; download a free coloring book.Take time to do a poppy craft activity. Invite them to ask veteran family members about their wartime experiences. Ask them how they celebrate Memorial Day. Visit a nearby Veterans Hospital. Home school parents and teachers can utilize Memorial Day curriculum and activities found on this LINK.
- Write a "Letter to the Editor" of your local newspaper and remind your community about the true meaning of Memorial Day.
- While it is important to remember lives lost to war, it is also a time to celebrate their lives and their memory. (This reminder from a military widow.)
- While you enjoy the freedom we celebrate with family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, make the choice to incorporate the true meaning of Memorial Day in your celebration! Ask a veteran friend or family member what Memorial Day means to them. Collect money for an organization that supports the military community. If you know a Gold Star family, create a plan to support them.
This website details the nation's historic military burial ground in Arlington, Virginia.
General John A. Logan Museum
Major General John A. Logan was a Civil War veteran who founded Memorial Day in 1868.
Memorial Day History
A resourceful website which details the history of Memorial Day. The site also includes poetry, speeches, photos, links and tips on how to observe Memorial Day. Visit this LINK to read the orders of General Logan in the observance of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day Parade Listing (VetFriends)
Official Memorial Day parade listings.
National Memorial Day Concert
Live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on
Sunday, May 26, from 8:00 to 9:30 pm ET (check local listings).
For over two decades, PBS's National Memorial Day Concert has led the nation in honoring the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all the fallen who have given their lives for our country.
National Memorial Day Parade
Washington, DC - Monday, May 27, 2013 starting at 2:00 p.m.
The National Memorial Day Parade, presented by the American Veterans Center, is held annually in Washington DC, and is an opportunity for thousands of patriotic Americans to come together and honor those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country.
The event celebrates all those who have served in uniform from the American Revolution to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and seeks to educate the public about the meaning of this hallowed day.
The History Channel
This website includes, videos, speeches, photos and interactives.
US Federal Holidays - Memorial Day
Describes the history of Memorial Day and lists common activities that occur on Memorial Day.
VA - Memorial Day
The Department of Veterans Affairs' Memorial Day resources.
Veteran Owned Business Memorial Day 2013 military discounts
Many wonderful organizations have put together special Memorial Day 2013 “thank you” discounts, freebies, coupons, deals and special saving offers for veterans and active duty military members (in some cases military spouses and military families as well).
Waterloo Memorial Day Museum
Waterloo, New York, is the only federally recognized birthplace of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day children's books and videos
If you check your local library, you will quickly learn that there are countless books about Memorial Day. Rather than creating an exhaustive list, Operation We Are Here has chosen to list a few favorites.
America's White Table
Author: Margot Theis Raven, Copyright @ 2011
Ages 6 and up
The White Table is set in many halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit.
As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set the white table for dinner. As their mother explains the significance of each item placed on the table Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle, and each member of the Armed Forces and their families, may be called to give.
Klinger: A Story of Honor and Hope
Author: Betsy Beard, Copyright @ 2010
This beautifully illustrated, full color, hardback children's book tells the story of a young horse dreaming of fame as a racehorse. But his life is disrupted when he must leave his parents and start a new life. Faced with difficulty and disappointment, Klinger’s dream of significance seems unattainable. He then discovers that fame is not necessary, as he finds fulfillment in honoring fallen heroes and bringing comfort to their families.
Based on a real horse that serves in the Caisson Platoon in Arlington National Cemetery, this work of fiction was written for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors in honor of all of America's beloved fallen heroes. Written by Betsy Beard, TAPS magazine editor and surviving mom of SPC Bradley Beard.
Let's Get Ready for Memorial Day
Author: Lloyd G. Douglas, Copyright @ 2003
Ages 4 and up
A girl's class prepares for Memorial Day by learning about the holiday from their teacher and making flags, and later she goes to a war memorial with her father to honor those who died.
Memorial Day (American Holidays)
Author: Lynn Hamilton, Copyright @ 2004
Ages 6 and up
Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women who have fought for the United States in war. From the first ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to celebrations across the country today, Memorial Day provides an in-depth and informative overview of the holiday.
Memorial Day (Holidays, Festivals, & Celebrations)
Author: Trudi Strain Trueit, Copyright @ 2008
Ages 5 and up
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have been killed fighting in American wars. Respectful illustrations and informative text teach readers about the history and pastimes associated with Memorial Day, as well as what they can do to commemorate the day.
Memorial Day (Our Nation's Pride Set 2)
Author: Karen Latchana Kenney, Copyright @ 2011
Ages 4 and up
Children are taught to respect the symbols of America from their first day of school. Memorial Day provides teachers an easy-to-read picture book explaining the creation, history, and meaning of the holiday that honors our nation's soldiers.
Memorial Day Surprise
Author: Theresa Golding, Copyright @ 2004
Ages 4 and up
An inspiring story of American ingenuity based on actual events. Two children of a soldier stationed in Iraq are determined to buy their father a huge flag for his imminent homecoming. Their grandparents on Plum Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, help them, but it is really the local veterans who save the day.
Memorial Day/Veterans Day (Holidays for Children) - DVD
Memorial Day and Veterans Day are special holidays in America that honor the people who have served in the U.S. armed forces and commemorate all the service men and women who have died to preserve our freedom. Join the kids at the community center as they discover the true meaning of these important days and learn about their history through songs, stories, crafts and interviews with veterans. A visit to Arlington National Cemetery and a local community parade show how people pay their respects and celebrate these holidays. Part of the Holidays for Children Video Series. A teacher's guide is included and is available online.
A Tribute to America's Veterans
Author: Robert B. Fletcher, Copyright @ 2005
Ages 4 and up
Remembrance: A Tribute to America's Veterans is the first book to portray veterans and military funeral scenes from all of America's wars in a series of outstandingly precise watercolor paintings and pencil drawings. With compelling scenes from the Revolutionary War to the Afghanistan War, Remembrance: A Tribute to America's Veterans tells the story of the nation's 26.2 million veterans who are alive today and all who came before them. Nearly half of all Americans who served during wartime in our country's history are still alive, and nearly 80 percent of today's veterans served during a war. Remembrance: A Tribute to America's Veterans pays tribute to those warriors by providing a new view of every major war in our nation's history and a view of a veteran's life that has not been addressed before.
Stars and Stripes Celebrate Memorial Day
Author: Madeline Collins, Copyright @ 2010
This book is dedicated in memory of the brave men and women who have fought to keep our country safe. Written by Madeline Collins for her Girl Scout Gold Award. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to ReMind: The Bob Wooddruff Foundation.
The Poppy Lady
Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans
Author: Barbara Walsh, Copyright @ 2012
Ages 7 and up
When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.
A portion of the book’s proceeds will support the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, which benefits children of the U.S. military.
Author: Eve Bunting, Copyright @ 1992
A boy travels to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with his father to seek out his grandfather's name. The well-matched text and illustrations are soft but stirring.