Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memories of Memorial Day

                Once more Memorial Day is here, and for many this signifies the first day of summer.  But Memorial Day has a much deeper meaning.

                When I was a kid, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. It was held on May 30 and if we arrived in Wild Rose on the day or so preceding Decoration Day, American Legion folks sold us red paper poppies to commemorate the day. We also made sure to put flowers on the grandparents graves on both sides of the family—Grandpa and Grandma Witt, and Grandpa and Grandma Apps.

                Decoration Day was first celebrated in 1868, as a way to recognize those soldiers who died in the Civil War.  General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, with General Order No. 11, proclaimed, “The 30th of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers and otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

                In wasn’t until after World War II that people began calling Decoration Day, Memorial Day, and included remembering all of those who served in battle, no matter which war.  In 1971, when  Congress passed the “National Holiday Act,” Memorial Day became an official federal  holiday, to be observed each year on the last Monday in May.

Red poppies became associated with Decoration Day in 1915, inspired by a poem written by Moina Michael.
In Flanders Fields
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

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Take a minute to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day

 My one-day writing course on “Writing From Your Life,” is scheduled for Saturday, October 17 at the Clearing in Door County.  Go to  for detailed information.


May 27, 7:00 p.m., Middleton Public Library, Whispers and Shadows

June 11, 5:30 p.m. Fund Raising Event, Stoughton Area Resource Team (START), Stoughton Hospital, Limping Through Life.

June 16, 6:30 p.m. Dinner and Lecture, Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, Whispers and Shadows. Call 608-264-6555 for reservations.

June 18, 6:30, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Whispers and Shadows

June 23, Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture, Dinner Meeting. Madison, Time and place to be announced. Keynote.

July 16, 6:30. Heritage Village at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay, Remembering Farm Life from an Earlier Day

September 3, Noon.  Old World Wisconsin, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History (New book)

September 3, 7 p.m. Books and Company bookstore,  Oconomowoc,  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 12, West Madison Agriculture Research Station, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.  Time to be announced.

September 17, 11:-a.m.  St. Lukes Church, Middleton, WI   Stories From the Land

September 19 , Stonefield Village, Cassville.  Whispers and Shadows.

September 23, Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 26, 10:30 -2:00, Dregni’s, Westby, Book signing.

October 7, 6:30 p.m. Reedsburg Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 9-10, Heartland Forum, Chicago.

October 15, Prairie du Sac Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 17, 9-4 Teaching writing workshop at The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

October 17, 4:30-6:00 p.m. The Clearing.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

October 29, Brown County Library.  Premier of TV Documentary,” The Land With Jerry Apps. “ Book signing, Whispers and Shadows.

November 5, 7:00 p.m. Baraboo Library, Whispers and Shadows.

November 7, Edgerton Book Festival, The Land (TV documentary) and Whispers and Shadows

November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, The Land (TV documentary)  plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows.

November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium.  Whispers and Shadows book signing. (Time to be announced)

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