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HAPPENINGS: Honor our fallen veterans on Memorial Day

CRESTVIEW — This year Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 31.

Memorial Day was established by a group of Union veterans in order to remember and decorate the graves of those fallen during the Civil War. General Logan, commander of  the Grand Army of the Republic, wanted to establish May 30 as Decoration Day.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,(, "The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C." The date was May 30, 1868. 

Many local communities and states held their own remembrance of these fallen soldiers for many years. After World War I, Decoration Day was expanded to include and remember all the fallen men and women from any American war. Congress adopted Decoration Day as a National Holiday to be held on May 30 in 1938. Decoration Day is now known as Memorial Day.

In 1968, Congress adopted the Uniform Monday Holidays bill, which moved Memorial Day to the last Monday of May.

This move was met with resistance from some who felt that by making this day a three-day holiday took away the solemnity of the occasion. This special date has been set aside to commemorate our fallen service members. It isn't just a day off school or work.

For many years, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and others worked to get Memorial Day to be held on May 30, no matter what day of the week, but this hasn't happened.

The original intent of this holiday was to clean up, remember and decorate the graves of those who have fallen in war. Small American flags are also placed at each grave as a remembrance of the sacrifice these persons have made for our country.

This is a solemn occasion and not one that should be taken lightly. We need to remember those who gave their lives in battle for our country.

Red poppies, which symbolize the blood that was shed for our country, are worn on the Friday before Memorial Day.

The poem "In Flanders Field" was written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian doctor and World War I veteran.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie

        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 

To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high. 

    If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

        In Flanders fields. (Public domain)

Our children should be taught that true bravery is displayed when men and women go into war to preserve our freedoms.

Generally these loyal service members give no thought to their safety, but to the safety of our country.

We owe these fallen ones a huge debt of gratitude that cannot easily be repaid. Let us remember them on Memorial Day.

Janice Lynn Crose

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: HAPPENINGS: Honor our fallen veterans on Memorial Day