Originally called Decoration Day, it was established before the end of the Civil War to honor the men and women who died in service of our nation. Many small towns lay claim to having been the first to celebrate a specific day, but over time it was officially proclaimed a holiday on May 4, 1868. It was marked by decorating graves, holding parades and attending picnics big and small.
In 1915 Moina Michael wore a red poppy to honor those who died in war, and the idea took hold. Before too long the tradition of buying and wearing poppies spread, even to other countries. The proceeds in some cases went to widows and children orphaned by war.