How to Use Flowers this Memorial Day
The precise origin of the Memorial Day holiday is disputed. Historians agree on a few of the core facts about this day, however. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, because the original vision for the observance was one of paying tribute to soldiers who died in combat during the Civil War – one of the bloodiest wars in American history. The idea for a day on which to pay homage to deceased soldiers came about in the years immediately following the Civil War. Here at Trias Flowers, we want to help our customers honor the deceased war heroes in their lives with the perfect flowers for this important national holiday.
A story in Time Magazine tells the story of what Yale University historian, David Blight believed was the “first” Memorial Day celebration. He suggests that it began when some former slaves gathered in Charleston, South Carolina at the site of a Confederate prison that had been a horse track. Over 250 union soldiers died while they were imprisoned there.
The ex-slaves were offended that the bodies of all those soldiers were buried in a single mass grave. They decided to dig the grave up, and then dig individual graves for each of the soldiers buried there. They wanted the place to be a real cemetery, so they built a 100-yard fence around the area where they buried the soldiers. They then placed a plaque on the arched entry they had created. They inscribed the plaque with the words “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
Although it isn’t known exactly when this occurred, roughly 10,000 Charleston residents, including school children, their teachers, Union soldiers, and white missionaries, gathered together to march around Planter’s Race Course. Their arms were filled with roses, and they sang songs while they marched. They then went to the graveyard to listen to five black preachers recite passages from the Bible. They listened to a children’s choir sing the National Anthem and Negro spirituals. They then laid roses at each of those graves.
Although Decoration Day was originally conceived of as an event to honor soldiers who died in combat during the Civil War, it expanded to include all soldiers who died in combat in defense of their country after World War I. The tradition of wearing red poppies for Memorial Day started in 1915, after Moina Michael, an overseas war secretary, stumbled on the poem “In Flanders Field” in the Ladies Home Journal. She was so moved by the poem that he decided to wear a red poppy to honor all soldiers who died while defending their country.
After she had successfully sold many red poppies to her friends and coworkers, she decided to campaign to establish the flower as the “official” symbol of Memorial Day (which was renamed Memorial Day when the observance was expanded to include all soldiers.) In 1921, the American Legion joined that tradition and the rest, as they say, is history.
Red flowers are an important part of the Memorial Day tradition, with the most recognizable flowers for that day being roses, poppies, and to a lesser extent, carnations.