The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.  There are many different stories as to the actual beginnings of Memorial Day.  With over two-dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of this national holiday, Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966.

However, it is not important who was the very first or where Memorial Day was born, what is important is that Memorial Day was established.  Memorial Day is not about division.  Memorial Day is about reconciliation, the coming together to honor those who have given their all for our freedom.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael penned:

“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.”

Moina Michael was the first to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of the soldiers who died serving their nation.  Ms. Michael also sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.  Not only has this wearing and selling of red poppies spread to other countries, shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.  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.

Today, communities around the nation celebrate Memorial Day with parades, flag ceremonies, bike rides, and our favorite, racing.

Come out this Memorial Day and help us thank our fallen heroes for their service and sacrifices with the Young Chevrolet 100.  Rocky Mountain Raceways will be welcoming all military servicemen and women to the race for free and offer half price tickets to all active military families, with valid ID, in honor of Memorial Day, Presented by ITT.

Liz Adkins

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