Most of the time one will see the flag flown at half-staff all day; however, technically, this is not proper. The flag should be raised to the top and then lowered to half-staff. This is intended to honor those who have died for their country. At noon, the flag is to be raised again to full staff, where it remains for the rest of the day. This is to recognize that the deceased veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain.
Poppies have become the official flower of remembrance, declared as such by the American Legion in 1920. This is derived from WWI and the Battle of Ypres (English pronunciation is “Wipers.”). Apparently, a proliferation of poppies grew on that battlefield around soldiers’ graves. These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.” This poem caught people’s imagination and popularized the custom.
3. Sporting Events.
No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection. MD has the Indianapolis 500 and the Memorial golf tournament, among others. Also, until recently there was the traditional Memorial Day baseball doubleheader. Alas, due to economics, scheduled holiday baseball doubleheaders are all but extinct.
I hope the foregoing has increased your understanding and appreciation of MD. As a veteran, myself, I find it most gratifying that, in recent years, most Americans have come to recognize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans. I can remember a time (the Vietnam War period) when it wasn’t so. Just last night, for example, I attended a Billy Joel concert. At one point, Joel dedicated a song to veterans and several of them appeared on the stage in uniform. That produced some of the loudest and longest cheers of the night.
So, whatever you do this weekend, however you celebrate, try to pause for a moment in honor of the many veterans who have given their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.