Memorial Day Meaning and Memorial Symbolism
If you live in the United States, you know Memorial Day is fast approaching.
But no matter where you live on this lovely planet, I’ll bet my buttons you have memorials around which honor someone, something or some kind of epic event.
That’s pretty much what a memorial is…a symbol that invokes a memory or a feeling. But a memorial can be so much more.
A memorial is a reminder of the people who have forged ahead before us in the face of the unknown. Those who have protected us, and loved us enough to make our lives better for a cause, no matter what the cost.
In fact, the word memorial is a offshoot of the word ‘memory.’ That means we must remember those who have charged ahead of us to paved our way clear for better progress.
Memorials are commonly created as reminders of battles fought, wars won, heroes who have fallen, or tragedies the human race has had to endure throughout history.
This is a cairn. It is an ancient example of a memorial. It stands as a reminder of a sacred space, or a symbol of honor.
For example, cairns are towering stone features built by ancient Europeans – Celts included. Each stone was meticulously placed in a ritual for the purpose of honoring the person or event connected with that stone feature. It was an act of honoring the fallen. Cairns were commonly built to mark a sacred or holy place. They were also built to distinguish a resting place of a super-hero in a Celtic clan.
But ancient Europeans like the Gauls and Celts and the Picts did not stop with just stones. They also had living memorials. Huh? Yeah!
The Celts were also known to plant and nurture oak trees where big events took place, and sometimes marking a chieftain’s graves. The Ogham oak meaning deals with: Power, growth, leadership and strength.
Other ways the ancient Celts build memorials include
- Planting an oak tree, which is symbolic of strength, power, honor and leadership
- Planting fir trees, which symbolizes memory, immortality and hope.
- Building special altars and placing meaningful plants like meadow sweet, heather, ivy, rowan branches and gorse upon them.These plants are a devotional offering and express love to those who have passed from this physical plane.
Other Forms of Memorial
Interestingly, the poppy has been a long-standing symbol of memory.
The poppy is sacred to Demeter, the Greek fertility goddess and mother of Persephone.
Demeter was purported to preserve and keep poppies around her to remind her of the love she felt for her daughter…even when Persephone was absent while being bound to Hades in the underworld for half of the year.
Memorials of the Mind
It’s important to know that the act of memory and establishing memorials in our lives does not have to be physical. Granted, big statues and mega monoliths serve their purpose. They can galvanize a feeling, leave an impression, capture our attention. But before anything becomes physical – it is first created in the mind, the soul, in the spirit.
In fact, the word memorial also references speech, and devotionals spoken by the human tongue with a purpose of honor and recognition. I mention this because physical memorials are important – but what happens within our minds and hearts is far more superior in experience. When we consciously conjure personal symbols in our minds in order to honor what is important to us – it often makes a far greater impression than a bronze statue.
“The greatest memorial we can create is the light we shine from our hearts.”
Take Away Points
- A memorial coaxes our attention to important people, places or events that may deserve our devotion.
- A memorial doesn’t have to be made of brass or alabaster. Many times, a planting a tree in honor of a loved one or a life event is a more fitting memorial.
- The biggest, most profound memorials are the ones we hold deeply within our hearts.
One last thought: Please don’t wait for a particular day to express honor and devotion to the history that has gone before you.
No matter what your circumstances, you are here for a purpose. That purpose could never be manifested without people, places and events that have evolved before you were even born.
Try to take a moment every day to give thanks for the overwhelming odds and the people who sacrificed themselves to give you the chance become the beautiful, bright being you are.
As always, thank you for reading,
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