~ Memorial Day and the Poppy

Memorial Day is a day we are all familiar with, but maybe not the history associated with it.  Established May 30, 1868 by John A Logan, of Illinois. Originally called Decoration Day, it was when Americans decorated the graves of roughly 620,000 people who gave their lives in the Civil War. Today’s national holiday of Memorial Day honors all American soldiers who died in defense of the nation. We celebrate by marking and decorating military graves, holding yearly programs and wearing red poppies.

The Grand Army of the Republic was the earliest organized Patriotic society in Doylestown; first attempted in 1867 and established in 1883.  The first meeting of the post was held in the Doylestown Public Library, Lenape Building.  Subsequently they moved to their permanent home at Mannerchoir Hall and on May 30th held a public meeting in the Court House followed by a procession to the cemetery where the soldiers’ graves were decorated, followed by firing a volley.  These well-attended occasions were almost holidays.

The Red Poppy is a plant that thrives in harsh, hostile environments, including battlefields. The seeds may remain dormant for years but will blossom when the soil is disturbed.  As the artillery barrages began to disturb the earth, late 1914, poppies began to appear.

The Red Poppy is a symbol of remembrance inspired by a poem by John McCrae’s “In Flanders’s Fields” which memorializes the April 1915 battle in Ypres Salient, Belgium. For 17 days, McCrae tended those injured in the battle. The poem, written after the death of a close friend led to the adoption of the poppy as the Flower of Remembrance.

Memorial Day established in 1868 did not become a National Holiday until in 1968; President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Uniform Holiday Bill, which packaged several federal holidays into the tail end of three-day weekends with the hope of stimulating travel and commerce. Officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began one hundred years ago in Waterloo, New York, home of the Memorial Day museum. As a result, we have been officially celebrating Memorial Day on the fourth Monday of May since 1971 and unofficially it marks the beginning of the summer season.

We celebrate two U.S. Military holidays, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  Memorial Day began after the Civil War and is considered the day to honor those who were killed as the result of battle.  Veterans Day began after World War I as a day to honor all service men and women.

Nancy Janyszeski, Research Contributor





Page last updated:    May 25, 2023     Broken Links and to contribute additional data email - Nancy

A Timeline of Bucks County History - Mercer Museum PDF

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1864) 2nd Inaugural

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 


  • The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), the state tree of Pennsylvania, is one of the dominant trees of the Commonwealth's forests...
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Nancy C. Janyszeski All rights reserved.     Information submitted remains, to the extent the laws allows, the property of the submitter who by submitting it agrees that it may be freely copied, but never sold or used in a commercial venture without the knowledge and permission of the rightful owners.   

This website was created as a guide to the history and genealogy of Bucks County Pennsylvania. All efforts have been made to be accurate and to document sources. Some of the material has been contributed and published, with permission, in good faith. All effort has been made to be accurate as possible, and to refer to sources used. If you see an error, please let me know. This website was designed to be informative, a guide to Bucks County history and genealogical research, and hopefully fun. I can't guarantee that all the data is accurate.

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May 25, 2023