Memorial Day 2021

Chairman Tester Tours Malmstrom & Inspects ICBMs with Top Air Force Leadership, Meets with Montana Air National Guard

(Great Falls, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Subcommittee on
Defense, was joined by General Charles Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and General Timothy Ray, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command,
on  Friday, May 21, for a tour of
Malmstrom Air Force Base.

The visit comes on the heels of Tester’s visit earlier this week to
military and intelligence installations
in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and
Maryland, where he toured the
U.S.S. Montana and the U.S.S. Billings; discussed troop needs with servicemembers, including members of the Navy SEALs; inspected military
manufacturing plants; and received briefings on threats to national security and how the military and intelligence communities are responding to those challenges.

“Montanans and the military know well that Malmstrom and those who serve here play a critical role in the
defense of this country,” said Chairman Tester. “The folks at Malmstrom are counting on Congress to put aside
division and partisan politics, and
provide the resources they need to do their jobs and safeguard our national security. As Defense Chairman, I will be working with partners on both sides of the aisle and in the Administration to ensure the Ground-Based Strategic
Deterrent program stays on-track so that we maintain a reliable strategic nuclear deterrent for decades to come.”

Chairman Tester’s tour of
Malmstrom Air Force Base—which is approximately 90 miles from Tester’s farm in Big Sandy—included an inspection of a Minuteman III silo, a briefing on the operational status of the ground-based leg of America’s nuclear Triad, a tour and briefing on the Wing Operations Center, and a demonstration by Malmstrom’s Tactical Response Force, among other events. Additionally, Tester met with Malmstrom’s airmen and women as well as the Montana Air
National Guard to discuss what
Congress can do to better support their mission of
Montana and defending America’s national security.

Tester took
the gavel of
the Defense
Appropriations Subcommittee in January. The
Subcommitee is responsible for providing nearly $700 billion
annually to the Department of
Defense and related agencies. This is more than 95 percent of the military’s yearly budget, and includes matters ranging from pay and benefits for millions of service members and civilians to the development of advanced technologies and next-generation weapons. The Subcommittee also oversees funding for nearly all major U.S. intelligence

Tester previously served as Ranking Member of the Homeland Security
Subcommittee for Appropriations, whose jurisdiction included all homeland and border security, cybersecurity, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), and the Coast Guard.

“Montanans and the military know well that
Malmstrom and those who serve here play a critical role in the defense of this country”  (Courtesy Photo)


In the war-torn battlefields of Europe, the
common red field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) was one
of the first plants to reappear. Its seeds scattered
in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only
germinating when the ground was disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting of World War 1.

John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician, witnessed the war first hand and was inspired to write the now-famous poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915. (See below for the poem.) He saw the poppies scattered throughout the battlefield surrounding his artillery position in Belgium.


The Poppy Lady

In November 1918, days before the official end of the war, an American professor named Moina Michael wrote her own poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith,” which was inspired by McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.” In her poem, she mentioned wearing the “poppy red” to honor the dead, and with that, the tradition of adorning one’s clothing with a single red poppy in remembrance of those killed in the Great War was born. Moina herself came to be known—and
honored—as “The Poppy Lady.”


The Symbol Spreads Abroad

The wearing of the poppy was traditionally
done on Memorial Day in the United States, but the symbolism has evolved to encompass all veterans living and deceased, so poppies may be worn on Veterans Day as well. Not long after the custom began, it was adopted by other Allied nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, where it is still popular today. In these countries, the poppy is worn on Remembrance Day (November 11).

Today, poppies are not only a symbol of loss of
life, but also of recovery and new life, especially in support of the servicemen who survived the war
but suffered from physical and psychological injuries long after it ended.




Early Commemorations

One of the first known public tributes to war dead was in 431 B.C., when the Athenian general and statesman Pericles delivered a funeral oration praising the sacrifice and valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian War—a speech that some have compared in tone to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.


Recently freed African Americans hold vigil

As the Civil War neared its end, thousands of Union soldiers, held as prisoners of war, were herded into a
series of hastily assembled camps in Charleston, South Carolina. Conditions at one camp, a former racetrack
near the city’s Citadel, were so bad that more than 250 prisoners died from disease or exposure, and were
buried in a mass grave behind the track’s grandstand.

Three weeks after the Confederate surrender, an
unusual procession entered the former camp: On May 1, 1865, more than 1,000 people recently freed from enslavement, accompanied by regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops (including the Massachusetts 54th
Infantry) and a handful of white Charlestonians,
gathered in the camp to consecrate a new, proper
burial site for the Union dead. The group sang hymns, gave readings and distributed flowers around the
cemetery, which they dedicated to the “Martyrs of the Race Course.”


“Founder” declares May 30 as day of remembrance

In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-
in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War. On Decoration Day, as Logan dubbed it, Americans should lay flowers and decorate the graves of the war dead “whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

According to legend, Logan chose May 30 because it was a rare day that didn’t fall on the anniversary of a Civil War battle, though some historians believe the date was selected to ensure that flowers across the country would be in full bloom.

After the war Logan, who had served as a U.S. congressman before resigning to rejoin the army, returned to his political career, eventually serving in both the House and Senate and was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for vice president in 1884. When he died two years later, Logan’s body laid in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol, making him one of just 33 people to have received the honor. Today, Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle and several townships across the country are named in honor of this champion of veterans and those killed in battle.


Evolution of Tradition

Despite the increasing celebration of the holiday as
a summer rite of passage, there are some formal rituals still on the books: The American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff. Since 2000, when the U.S. Congress passed legislation, all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. The federal government has also used the holiday to honor non-veterans—the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1922.