From its origins during the Civil War as “Decoration Day,” to becoming an official federal holiday in 1971, Memorial Day is how the United States formally pays tribute to the countless soldiers who have died for our nation while serving in the U.S. military.

The Wilton Historical Society is holding a Memorial Day Workshop for Kids on Saturday, May 19 (from 11 am.-12:30 p.m.), during which kids will learn about the history of Memorial Day, and how the day is marked. Museum educator Lola Chen will discuss Memorial Day traditions, from parades to red paper poppies, visiting cemeteries, laying wreaths, and how we can remember the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers.

Participating children will complete a workshop project of creating a picture luminary, and also help prepare their snack.

The suggested ages to take part is 6-12 years old. The cost to participate is $10 per child, with a maximum of $25 per family for Wilton Historical Society members; and $15 per child, with a maximum of $35 per family for non-members. To register, send an email or call 203.762.7257.

The Wilton Historical Society is located at 224 Danbury Rd./Rte. 7.

Did you know…

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Also, red poppies have become a symbol for Memorial Day, thanks to the famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lt. Col. John McCrae, who wrote it after the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier. It became so popular after it was published that it was used in propaganda efforts and to recruit soldiers and sell war bonds. The image of the red poppies growing in fields where soldiers fought and were killed has now become symbolic worldwide for soldiers killed in battle.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.