Postcard from the Past: Memorial Day
The finest tribute we can pay
unto our heroes dead today,
is not a rose wreath, white and red,
in memory of the blood they shed;
it is to stand beside each mound,
each couch of consecrated ground,
and pledge ourselves as warriors true
unto the work they died to do.
Our hearts must be the roses red
we place above our heroes dead;
today beside their graves we must
renew allegiance to their trust,
must bow our heads and humbly say
we hold the flag as dear as they,
and stand, as once they stood, to die,
to keep the Stars and Stripes on high.
— Edgar A. Guest
These two stanzas, selected from a poem by Edgar Guest, carry a message which should give to us a deeper, more significant understanding of Memorial Day.
Although we have become so accustomed to placing wreaths and flowers on the graves of our heroes and paying tribute to them on just this one particular day, we should not forget it is our duty to live each day with the thought uppermost in our minds that we must carry on the work and ideals for which our hero dead made the great sacrifice.
This year, more than ever before, we will be reminded of our duty to those who fought to make the united colonies a nation, to those who fought to preserve our union, to those who battled valiantly in Native American wars and in the Spanish-American War and to those who crossed the waters to fight for world peace and democracy.
I said “this year,” because on May 30 there will be distributed through the nation, tiny red silk poppies – the flower of the American Legion.
These flowers, which will be replicas of those which “blow on Flanders fields,” have been made by the war orphans of the American and French Children’s League and have been brought to America by Anna E. Gueriu who founded the league for the purpose of perpetuating the friendship between the nations, which fought side by side during the World War.
The poppy is also the national emblem of the Children’s League and will be used in decorating the graves of our dead in France. The children themselves are the guardians of those graves.
The final settlement of the great conflict has not yet been made, and we American citizens should keep our interest at a high pitch in order to be able to insist our government will continue to demand and receive just reparation for the allies. “Lest ye forget poppies blow on Flanders fields.”
This week’s Postcard is reprinted from the May 1921 issue of the Wyoming Stockman-Farmer and was penned by Agnes Wright-Spring in her column “In The Home Circle.”