Memorial Day, 2015


Some years after the American Civil War, some women went to the local cemetery, bringing flowers with which to adorn the graves of the war dead.  Over in a corner they saw graves of the soldiers who fought for the other side, all unadorned.  Almost with one accord they went over there and placed flowers on the graves.

“There are others, back at their homes, who mourn them and loved them,” someone said.  And the tradition of Memorial Day began.

Where did it start?  I’ve heard several accounts, all believable, and I have concluded that it was something spontaneous in its truth and its generosity.

          By the flow of the inland river,
          Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
          Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
          Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
          Under the sod and the dew,
          Waiting the judgment-day;
          Under the one, the Blue,
          Under the other, the Gray

          No more shall the war cry sever,
          Or the winding rivers be red;
          They banish our anger forever
          When they laurel the graves of our dead!
          Under the sod and the dew,
          Waiting the judgment-day,
          Love and tears for the Blue,
          Tears and love for the Gray.
 
Lincoln’s second inaugural address, given in 1865, the year he died, closes with this sentiment:
 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

 
 

Hail and Farewell


I was at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, honoring my father at his funeral.



Honor Guard at the Caisson.  the riderless horse can be seen at Left

…and they move off to the gravesite.

It was stately, solemn, respectful and celebratory.  Dad would have loved it.  He would have loved it even more if there had been some little children to sit on his lap and have things explained to them, then told a bedtime story.

Let us now sing the praises of famous men, our ancestors in their generations…
There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valor…
all these were honored in their generations, and were the pride of their times.

Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise.
But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed;
they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them.

But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;
Their offspring will continue forever, and their glory will never be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name lives on generation after generation.
                                      (from Ecclesiasticus)