Memorial Day


Orr, Gregory




Gregory Orr is a New York-based writer who has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. “Memorial Day,” from The Red House, is a reflection on childhood and young adult memories of war and veterans. The poem inspires discussion about war, the army and veterans, patriotism, and community.

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Originally published in The Red House (1980)


Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Giving and ReceivingHeritage and Tradition

Big Questions

What does good giving require?How do I understand my heritage and traditions?


Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How does the speaker describe the scene in the first half of the poem?
  2. How does the speaker describe the classroom scene in the second half of the poem?
  3. What is the difference between the girls’ and the boys’ behavior in the poem?
  4. Why does the speaker mention the graves of friends?
  5. What do you think of the poem’s title?
  6. How do you think people should honor veterans and war memorials?
  7. Have your own memories of war and veterans informed your sense of identity or social role?
  8. How do you honor influential people in your personal or professional life? Does any part of the poem resonate with you?
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