Memorial Day, which unofficially marks the beginning of the summer season, honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Back in the 1860’s, this day was called Decoration Day. There is some evidence to say that it started when a group of local women from Mississippi went to decorate the graves of the Confederate soldiers. Noticing that the graves of the Union soldiers were bare, the women decided to decorate those graves as well. There is also evidence that this tradition could have started in the North. Overtime, this tradition became very widespread and expanded from town to town. In 1868, General John Logan issued a declaration that Decoration Day should be observed nationwide for all those who died in the Civil War. Originally, May 30th was the day that graves would be decorated for the “comrades who died in defense of their country.” In 1882, the name of the holiday was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day. After World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to recognize and remember soldiers from all American Wars. It wasn’t until 1971 that we began to celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.
The red poppy is a symbol of this day. This flower was one of the first plants to grow in war-torn battlefields. The seed of the poppy lays dormant on the ground and is only germinated when the ground is disturbed – as it was during the war. Today, poppies are a symbol of both loss of life and of recovery and new life, especially in support of those servicemen who were injured either physically or emotionally.
I tend to get confused by Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The difference is that Memorial Day is celebrated to remember military service members who have died in the line of duty. This can be if they died in battle or because of wounds sustained in battle. Veterans Day is a time to thank and honor all who served – in wartime or peacetime – regardless if they died or survived.
Many celebrate Memorial Day in different ways. Some go to parades, others put flowers on graves, and some celebrate with friends and family at barbeques and picnics. This year, my wife looked up a few recipes that she is going to bring to our family picnic. She is going to put these recipes on her idea board of the Penless app. That way she can refer to it from time to time. Here are a few picnic recipes that she has found that I would like to share: