A new bar & grill opened up near us recently, and they hold trivia contests on Wednesday nights. Along with a few friends from our neighborhood, we’ve gone a few times, and even won first place once. We went last week, and although they don’t officially have themes for the games, a number of the questions had to do with Memorial Day. I learned a few things about Memorial Day that I didn’t know, and was reminded about some that I’d forgotten. In honor of this Memorial Day weekend, I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was established after the Civil War as a day to honor those who died in the war by decorating their graves with flowers. For the record, our trivia team got that one wrong. We said “Armistice Day,” which was the original name for Veterans Day, not Memorial Day.

The flower associated with Memorial Day is the red poppy. I knew that, but what I didn’t know is that “Poppy Day” is celebrated in a number of countries around the world. In the United States, it was the American Legion who petitioned Congress to establish National Poppy Day in order to honor the fallen and to raise money to assist living veterans and active-duty military. (Full disclosure: I didn’t learn all of that on trivia night. Some of it came from Google.)

The poem “In Flanders Field” was the inspiration for the poppy becoming the symbol of remembrance for those who fought and died in battle.

Approximately 400,000 people are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. That isn’t technically about Memorial Day, but it was one of the trivia questions, and it’s something I didn’t know before. But I think I’ll remember it from now on.

Our Trivia Team came in third place that night, but I got a lot more out of it than the pleasure of winning one of the prizes, thanks to the Memorial Day information shared during the game. It helped me to focus on – and learn more about – the reason for this holiday. More important than the barbecues, the family picnics, and the unofficial start of summer, this holiday is to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

And there’s nothing trivial about that.

May 28, 2023
©Betty Liedtke, 2023

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