As you must surely know, today is Memorial Day, a day for reflecting on the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform who have given their lives in the service of their country. It began as Decoration Day, a day for decorating the graves of those who had died in the American Civil War.
You might want to take a look at the record of the national memorial day in 1869. Here’s a snippet from General Order Number 11 of 1868, taken from the introduction:
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
John Donovan has a fine remembrance. Thank you, John.
My previous Memorial Day posts:
I’l repeat what I said in 2004: let’s take this opportunity to forget our differences—at least for a day.
Please check out this Memorial Day message at Small Wars Journal which concludes:
It is important to grieve. Its may be more important on a national level that we remember and acknowledge. It provides the perspective of ice water in regards to the cost of war and the knowledge that war is a gamble and the stakes are often higher then we concede. War is about people, and it entails sacrifice. We should not approach it lightly, and we should always be prepared so that sacrifice is minimized when the object of war dictates violence. For most of us here, war is our business. We will remember our friends and family who have fallen. It is probably not coincidence that our pastor followed his thoughts on Memorial Day with a sermon on the Mustard Seed. One man or woman can make a difference – Good bye to our friends, they did not die for naught.