Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day is a day of remembrance for those who died in service to the USA. That includes my father, Charles Cleaveland Hill, who died during the Inchon landing in Korea on board ship of a massive heart attack brought on by stress. He was 39 years old, a long-time navy man, and father of 3 girls me, Elouise, and Melinda. My mother was left to carry on with raising us and a good job she did. I am the only one who knew my father, because Elouise and Melinda were very young when he died.
In May 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo New York the birthplace of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War, which ended in 1865 and a desire to honor the dead. On May 5th, 1868, General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic officially proclaimed it in his General Order No. 11.
On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all northern states. However, the South refused to acknowledge the day and honored their dead-on separate days until after WW1 when the holiday was changed to honoring all Americans who died fighting in any war. Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 to observe Memorial Day on the last Monday in May in almost every state. Several southern states have an additional day for honoring the Confederate war dead: Texas January 19, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi April 26. May 10 In South Carolina and June 3rd in Louisiana and Tennessee.
In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” Moina Michael replied with her own poem We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows in fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies.
She conceived of the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day. She was the first to wear one and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money benefitting servicemen in need. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veteran’s organization to nationally sell poppies. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael by issuing a red 3 cent stamp with her likeness on it.
On December 2000 a resolution passed which asks that at 3pm local time all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence of listening to “Taps”.
My father is buried at the Presidio national cemetery In San Francisco, California.
Each year I pray that we will have no more wars, but that has certainly not been answered.