Memorial Day serves as a tribute to our nation's fallen soldiers

Contact: Lauren DeVol, MVAA, 517-242-6869
Agency: Military and Veterans Affairs

May 13, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Memorial Day has served as a time of reflection since the Civil War. Originally known as “Decoration Day,” Gen. John Logan first proclaimed the holiday in 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers and remember their sacrifice.

After World War I, poppies became a symbol to memorialize the fallen. The tradition was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, who was moved by the sight of wild poppies growing on soldiers’ graves in Europe. Today, the tradition continues through the sale of poppies to benefit military members, veterans and their families.

In Michigan, the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans makes hundreds of thousands of poppies, which are then sold by veterans service organizations across the state each year. Michigan’s strong support of military members is understandable given its rich military history. Citizens of the Great Lake State have served in every major conflict since the Civil War.

This Memorial Day, there are many ways to remember those who sacrificed their lives in service to country.

“At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, everyone is encouraged to observe a moment of silence,” said Jason Allen, senior policy advisor for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. “There are many other ways to celebrate as well, including attending a local service or parade or visiting the graves of fallen soldiers.”

The National Memorial Day Concert will be broadcast on Public Television on Sunday, May 24 at 8 p.m. Events in honor of Memorial Day include historic military reenactments, parades and recreational activities, taking place throughout Michigan.

As we remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, MVAA thanks all who serve and have served. For more information on how we serve veterans, visit or call 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).