Paul W: Never lose sight of Memorial Day’s purpose

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Saturday Moanin’”

Two years ago in this column I asked if you had seen anyone wearing a red poppy recently. This past Thursday’s appearance of red noses got me thinking about it again.

In 1915, the poem “In Flanders Fields” inspired Moina Michael to write: “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 then suggested the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving our nation during war.

There is no question that, as time marches on, those who marched in the past for today’s mostly taken-for-granted freedoms have been mostly forgotten.

As the VFW’s Frederick G. Langston put it, “Let us remember these freedoms were bought and paid for by the lives of others few of us actually knew.”

I’m not asking anyone to disrupt holiday plans to find the graves of the war dead and decorate them with flowers, (hence Memorial Day’s original name, Decoration Day), nor suggesting we make our way to Arlington National Cemetery to plant flags, an honorable job handled since the late 1950s by 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, who have placed small American Flags at each of the gravestones, representing so many who have paid the ultimate price for us, our children and our children’s children.

Many Americans have certainly forgotten the true meaning (and no longer practiced traditions) of Memorial Day.

I’m not scolding.

Just observing.

And just asking for a brief moment of quiet contemplation and recognition of the significance of the actions and sacrifice Memorial Day represents.

As we enter the summer season, I must ask: Does that star spangled banner yet wave at your home?

Paul W. Smith is host of The Paul W. Smith Show on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.