Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 as flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her poem:
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.
She conceived the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who have died while serving our great nation.
Memorial Day not only recognizes a national sacrifice, but a spiritual sacrifice as well. In other words, we not only commemorate the blood that was shed to ensure our national freedom; but, we also commemorate the blood that was shed to ensure our spiritual freedom, as well, by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most of the Memorial Day observances in our nation will look to graves filled with the bodies of those soldiers who died in service to their country. We thank God for their sacrifice. However, as believers, our Memorial Day can also look to a vacant cross, and an empty grave to the greatest sacrifice ever given.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”