Will you be decorating cemetery monuments this Memorial Day? If so, children (or others) may be curious about the exact meaning behind the holiday. Specifically, how does it differ from Veterans Day? And how do so-called "cemetery logs" planted for the May holiday differ from those planted for Veterans Day? More importantly on a practical level, if you're looking for some options in "patriotic" annuals for your planting needs, you'll want to see my pictures of red, white and blue flowers. For those who haven't fully examined the history behind the two holidays, they may appear to be carbon copies of each other. But there is a difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day (beyond, i.e., the date of celebration). Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor U.S. military personnel who have died in the service of their country. Veterans Day, meanwhile, is the holiday on which America honors all U.S. military personnel (all who have served honorably, that is).
In terms of decorating cemetery (sometimes misspelled as "cemetary") monuments, a big difference (in Northern climes, at least) between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that the weather for the latter is plant-friendly. Thus the so-called "cemetery logs" that you buy at the florist or nursery for Memorial Day are planted with live plants: namely annual plants (they're less expensive than perennial plants).
Cemetery logs look like window boxes, and their framework is often made out of rough-cut wood; this framework resembles a log, thus their name. Like window boxes, cemetery logs are filled with soil and planted. But in regions where the weather is too cold on November 11 (Veterans Day) to sustain annual flowers, cemetery logs are decorated instead with branches cut from evergreen trees, winterberries, artificial plants and other ornamentation that can withstand the frosty temperatures.
Coming as it does on the threshold of summer (Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May), Memorial Day offers you better options for decorating cemetery monuments. There'll be plenty of time during the cold months to display artificial plants, so I heartily recommend that you use annual flowers for Memorial Day. Yes, annual flowers will die later in the year; but, in the meantime, they bring life to cemeteries. And isn't that what you truly seek from decorating cemetery monuments? Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa