Memorial Day / Remembrance / Veterans
They Live on in our Memories; They Rest Easy Because We Remember What They Did.
“Let no ravages of time testify to the present or the coming generations that we, as a people, have forgotten the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
Memorial Day began in 1868 with those words by Army General John Logan as he signed the order creating Decoration Day. Decoration Day was named quite simply because that is how we first began recognizing those who died in service to our country: by decorating their grave sites. This continues today as this weekend, soldiers of the Old Guard placed flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Each flag is precisely twelve inches in front and centered for each grave marker, as the unit has done for over 50 years.
Memorial Day was made official in 1968 by an act of Congress, 100 years after it began. The National Holiday Act of 1971 moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend. Interestingly, many veterans’ organizations fought this move because they thought it would de-emphasize the dignity of the occasion and people would treat it more like a mini-vacation than a solemn commemoration. I’m inclined to think they were correct.
Although I doubt it is new to anyone, below is a short poem written by a Canadian doctor during World War I. “In Flander’s Fields” was written by Major John McCrae.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die…