Lest we forget

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, May 25, 2017

Memorial Day must be more than just a holiday that kicks off the “summer season,” provides a day off from work for many people and results in barbecues. It must be a somber reminder of the ultimate sacrifices made by American servicemen and servicewomen in wars and conflicts at home and abroad.

The annual observance is a tribute to U.S. military personnel who were killed or died during wars in which the United States fought, veterans, current military personnel and POWs/MIAs.

The origin of Memorial Day is somewhat murky, but the reason for it is crystal clear. Women’s groups in the South were decorating graves of Confederate soldiers before the end of the Civil War.
According to the Web site www.memorialday.com, “Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.”

Logan’s General Order No. 11 tells the story of Memorial Day. It reads, in part, “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 by 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 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.”

Enough said.