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Page 12
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016
The Rockaway Times
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Continued on page 17
Originally known as Decora-
tion Day, Memorial Day (as it is
now known) is a day of remem-
brance, which originated in the
years following the Civil War and
became an official federal holi-
day in 1971. This Sunday, May 29,
the Broad Channel VFW will be
hosting our community’s annual
Memorial Day parade. This event
is a testament to our town’s desire
to honor those men and women
who have sacrificed so much for
our freedom on this sacred day.
The parade will start at 1:00
p.m. with a wreath laying cere-
mony at the 17th Road Park Flag
Pole and then travel along Cross
Bay Boulevard to the George
Riekers Veterans Memorial Park
for another wreath laying and
closing ceremonies.
As always, our honored guests
will be those veterans from St.
Albans Hospital who will be
joined by our own local veteran
members of the Broad Channel
VFW and American Legion as
well as our elected officials and
other community organizations.
Please keep in mind that few-
er than 10 percent of Americans
can claim the title “veteran.”
While the phrase “uncommon
valor was a common virtue,” has
been so often repeated that it
risks becoming a cliché, it is no
less true. In 1789 George Wash-
ington said, “The willingness
with which our young people
are likely to serve in any war,
no matter how justified, shall
be directly proportional as to
how they perceive the veterans
of earlier wars were treated and
appreciated by their country.”
And while standing on Cross
Bay Boulevard watching the
Broad Channel Memorial Day
Parade on Sunday and your
child asks why someone hand-
ed him or her a red poppy, take
some time to explain the history
of this tradition which, unfortu-
nately, is either unknown to or
forgotten by many of us.
Lieutenant Colonel John Mc-
Crae, a doctor with the Canadi-
an forces was serving in Belgium
and after witnessing the death of
his friend, looked out upon the
battlefield and was taken aback
at the sight of all the bright red
poppies growing in the midst of
the carnage. As a result, Lieu-
tenant Colonel John McCrae
put pencil to paper and penned
the poem “We Shall Not Sleep”
which later became more widely
known as “In Flanders Field.”
The idea for a Flanders Fields
Memorial Poppy came to Miss
Moina Michael of Georgia while
she was working at the YMCA
Overseas War Secretaries’ head-
quarters on a Saturday morning
in November 1918, two days be-
fore the Armistice was declared
at 11 o’clock on November 11.
The Twenty-fifth Conference of
the Overseas YMCA War Secre-
taries was in progress. A young
soldier left a copy of the Novem-
ber Ladies Home Journal on
Moina’s desk and in it she came
across a page which carried a
vivid color illustration for the
poem “We Shall Not Sleep” (lat-
er named “In Flanders Fields”)
by the Canadian Army doctor
John McCrae.
Reading the poem, Moina was
transfixed by the last verse - “To
you from failing hands we throw
the Torch; be yours tohold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
we shall not sleep, though pop-
pies grow in Flanders Fields.”
She then conceived an idea
and started the practice of wear-
ing a red poppy on Memorial
day in honor of those who died
serving the nation during war.
She was the first to wear one,
and soon began selling poppies
to her friends and co-workers
with the proceeds going to benefit
servicemen in need.