Memory Blooms this Memorial Day

Remember our armed forces with these flowers.

| April/May 2004

Memorial Day rolls around in May every year, prompting annual visits to family gravesites with decorations in hand. Folks fill their cars with the best blooms from their gardens—peonies, irises and a few precious roses bound with twine and filled with sprigs of sage and artemisia.

Some pack milk jugs full of water, odd assortments of foil-wrapped tin cans and sometimes even bring a picnic lunch. And young and old, they make a day of it, in the cemeteries where loved ones who have passed on are buried. In doing so, they repeat a ritual their parents and grandparents performed before them, often using the same kinds of flowers, to renew important ties between two worlds. For a few days, the old country cemeteries, often overgrown, look well-tended again, even merry.

A legal holiday in most states, Memorial Day was named a holiday officially in 1868 as a Civil War commemorative. Prior to that it was celebrated by some as Decoration Day. Now, all war dead are remembered, as well as other deceased family members. In part, this holiday helped bring flowers back into the cemeteries, and to funeral services, too, particularly in the northeastern United States where Puritans had frowned on such frivolities.

Flowers in Memoriam

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