Here is a little history about Memorial Day from the history channel.
And then go and read this diary from the Daily Kos. He sums up everything much more eloquently than I can. From “Memorial Day & Flanders Field”:
I am reminded of my dad and uncles who served in World War II. None of them talked about their war experiences—I am sure that those experiences were horrifying for them as young men. When I knew them they all seemed older than the uncles who had not served. There was something about their eyes that was not present in my other uncles’ eyes—that they had seen humanity at its worst, and survived. It was an emptiness, an emptiness that has been called the thousand yard stare. No matter their age, it was still there, maybe not as hard edged as it was when they first came home, but it was with them, in some small way, until the day they died.
And Flanders Fields refers to a battle site in WWI