Memorial Day is this coming Monday–do you know why we celebrate it?
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was started after the Civil War as a way to honor and commemorate the soldiers who had died. There are multiple claims as to who and where the celebrations started, and celebrations were held in various cities and states on various days until May 26, 1966, when President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day. By that time the holiday was a solemn remembrance of soldiers, sailors, airmen and merchant marines who had passed. (note: Veteran’s Day is when we celebrate those who served/are serving who are still with us–there is a difference!)
As a veteran myself I find it a very somber time to reflect on those I personally know who have “given their last full measure” as well as that long line of servicemen and women who came before me. I decorate the house with flags and bunting in the spirit of the day.
Here in my small town in Upstate New York we like to keep the spirit of Memorial Day with a parade through town which stops at the All Veterans Memorial to lay a wreath and then stops again at the bridge to toss another wreath into the river that flows through town. We proceed up the hill to the cemetery where there are speeches, singing, prayers and a 21 gun salute for those who are gone. It’s lovely.
Another tradition for Memorial Day is the decoration of graves. Our town ensures that the stone of every veteran in both cemeteries (no matter how old) has a flag placed at the foot. In many families it is a tradition to additionally decorate the stones for their family members with flowers.
My sweet Mother in Law always makes up two planters with flowers to place at my Father in Law and my Grandfather in Law’s plots at the cemetery . This year she broke her wrist and didn’t think she’d be able to make them, so I offered to help out.
It just so happens that Walmart asked me to do a post in honor of Memorial Day–so I was able to combine family duty with work!
Picking up the materials at my local Walmart was simple–just the bare bones black planters (we have a hole dug near the stone that you just set the pot down into flush), some garden soil, and of course flowers. I wanted to spiff it up a bit more in honor of our veterans, so we also included a simple solar light and a small American flag for each.
I also had a secret weapon:
Yes. That is a diaper–newborn size to be exact. I just grabbed an outgrown one that my sister had on hand, but you can always buy a new package of diapers at Walmart. What is the diaper for? Well today’s diapers are full of this special gel stuff (yeah not so technical) that absorbs a lot of water. The idea is to place a diaper that you have soaked with water on the bottom of the pot to act as a reservoir, then fill it with soil and do your planting. As the soil dries out it will pull the moisture from the diaper and then the next time it rains the soil and the diaper will both be recharged with water. This should help the flowers flourish, since we are over an hour away from the plots and won’t be stopping by to water regularly.
For the flowers I needed things that do well in full sun and that are hearty. I chose petunias in red and white and then some purple alyssum to fill in the front. Sort of red white and blue (well, red white and purple–there are only a few blue flowers and none of them work in this particular situation). Right now they are small and don’t look incredibly lush in the pots–I know it looks like a lot of bare soil is showing–but that’s on purpose. As the flowers grow they will spread out, and if I started with pots that looked chock full then they’d wind up not having enough space in the long run.
I am very pleased with how they came out!
Here are some more great ideas for your Memorial Day from the rest of the Walmart Moms:
Mommy’s Kitchen made a No Bake Flag Cake and Patriotic Pretzel Rods
Hoosier Homemade created Simple Table Decorations for Under $5
Green Your Decor spruced up the backyard with an easy shade option from Walmart
Presley’s Pantry spiced things up with some Habanero Lime Spiced Onions
Lynnae McCoy shows how to survive Memorial Day at the soccer tournament
Rockin Mama whips up an Asian Coleslaw
Growing Up Blackxican makes some fun DIY Patriotic Canvas Shoes
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.