Memorial Day is sometimes called Decoration Day because following the Civil War, people went to cemeteries to place flowers on or to "decorate" the graves of loved ones who died in the war.
After World War I, it also became known as Poppy Day after Canadian Army Col. John McRae wrote a poem titled "In Flanders Fields." The poem expresses his grief over the thousands of soldiers who died on the Flanders battlefields in Europe and describes the beautiful red poppies that grow among their graves.
To this day, members of VFW posts across the nation offer red paper poppies for donations to help disabled veterans.
You can make your own poppies for decorations this Memorial Day with the instructions listed below.
Red crepe or tissue paper
Black or dark blue crepe or tissue paper
Green chenille stems, one for each poppy
Margarine container lid, about 4 inches in diameter
Smaller lid, about 2 inches in diameter
Pen or pencil
Fold crepe or tissue paper three times for each flower you want to make.
Place the large lid on the red stack of paper and trace around it with a pen or pencil.
Repeat with black or blue paper and a smaller lid.
Cut the circles out.
Using three circles of each color for each flower, stack the circles together and place the smaller circles in the middle of the larger ones.
Carefully, poke a hole through the center of the stack from the bottom with a chenille stem. Bring the stem up through the hole, leaving about 4-inches of stem above the flower.
Bend the top stem down and poke it through the paper about 1/2-inch from the first hole. Carefully, pull the stem down and twist the end around the long end of the stem to secure it.
Pull the crepe paper petals slightly away from each other to form the poppy.
Place your poppies inside a vase and use as a meaningful decoration for Memorial Day picnics and get-togethers.