Memorial Day: Go red, honor fallen soldiers.


Today is Memorial Day: an American holiday that is often used as an opportunity for barbeques and getting all the deals you can at the mall. Today’s #DailyRevolution is to get back to the meaning of the holiday and wear red to honor those, especially women, persons of color, and LGBTQIA+ veterans, who have given their lives in our nation’s service, as well as their families and partners.

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was created after the Civil War to celebrate the dead. On the first Decoration Day, there were 5,000 participants who decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. In 1915, Moina Michael, an American professor and humanitarian, began to sell red poppies in order to raise money for servicemen in need, war orphaned children, and widowed women. The tradition then spread to other countries inspiring us, today, to wear red in remembrance.

Michaels famously wrote the poem We Shall Keep the Faith, as shown below, in 1918. She was inspired by the war poem In Flanders Fields written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet - to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led;

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red

We wear in honor of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.

Today, like Michaels, we are also faced with war. We have lost many lives in the Middle East since 2001. According to Benjamin Rhodes, former President Obama’s deputy national security advisor, when the Obama administration first took office, the U.S. was “... losing 100 people a month and spending $10 billion per month.” Although the spending and the number of casualties vastly decreased, 2,500 soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Obama years. Today we have indications that the U.S. military plans to deepen its involvement in the Middle East without a clear end in sight.

This is the reality that we have faced and will continue to face. As we step into the future, we must remember our past. Today, we wear red to honor our armed forces who have lost their lives in service to the United States. It is a small gesture to show our thanks.