Memorial Day Meaning and Memorial Symbolism
Thoughts about Memorial symbols and the meaning of Memorial Day.
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.
Memorials are perhaps the best example of in-your-face symbolism. When we think of a memorial, our minds may turn to statues of fallen warriors, or grand structures to denote a historical detail.
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 an offshoot of the word ‘memory.’ That means we must remember those who have charged ahead of us to pave 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. These stone features and others like them are found dotting landscapes around the world….in this example, Ireland. The cairn is an ancient example of a memorial. It stands as a reminder of a sacred space, or a symbol of honor.
But what about other kinds of memorials? Take the ancient Celts. These wild, wonderful people were big into memorials. But instead of erecting statues, they often employed the power of mother nature to make a lasting statement.
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!
This really gets me jazzed, because the Celts often planted fir trees to mark the site of battles won, or mark the graves of great warriors. In the Celtic Ogham (the Druid holy language of trees), the fir is symbolic of honor, friendship, devotion and remembrance.
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 Symbolism
Not all memorials are made of stone or marble. The poppy is a memorial and a symbol of remembering our loved ones who have passed into non-physical.
In more modern times, the poppy has served as memorial symbols. The poppy flower was utilized as a reminder of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the infamous battle at Flanders Field fought during WWI.
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.
Also noteworthy, is the poppy’s connection with the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. In his dreamy realm, the poppy is a symbol of recalling fond memories and conjuring spirits that are with us, but are no longer physically bound to this world.
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 and minds.” ~Avia
Take Away Points about Memorial Symbols
- 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 perfect memorial symbol.
- 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.
I hope you enjoyed this article on memorial symbols, if you liked this post, please feel free to share on your social networks so others might be inspired too!
As always, thank you for reading,
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