And some there be, which have no memorial … and are become as though they had never been born … But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten … Their seed shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.
— Ecclesiasticus 44: 1
Decoration Day was created May 30, 1868, to decorate the graves with flowers of those who died in defense of their country three years after the end of the Civil War. In 1900 Congress allowed Confederate veterans to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and in 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be held on the last Monday in May.
On Memorial Day, we honor those who gave their lives to keep us free and the families they left behind. We also honor our courageous armed forces — and their valiant families.
On this Memorial Day weekend, remember those who died for us and our way of life.
No combat veteran sings the praises of war with our bombs bursting in air. “War is at best barbarism … Its glory is all moonshine,” said Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. “It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.” He said.
In total regard and thanks for the freedom we enjoy, thank those in harm’s way who are still fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq and other far-flung places — and are still doing so today.
Thanksgiving is when we pause to thank God for everything He’s given us. Memorial Day is when we pause to give thanks to God again and the people who fought and died for everything we have, especially our freedom.
Writing for The American online magazine of the American Enterprise Institute, Ralph Kinney Bennett said Memorial Day is not about death.
“It is about duty,” he said.
“And about the ultimate limit of duty — sacrifice.
“It is a time to remember that who we are and what we are as a nation unique in history has depended on our sense of duty and its inevitable call to sacrifice.
“And while the particular duty — the often perilous duty — of defending our country is accepted by the professional soldier, it has often been imposed on many others and carried out reluctantly and with trepidation. For most, this duty has meant the sacrifice of time — ‘the best years of our lives’ — and of broken bodies. But for many others it has meant a sacrifice of life itself.
“It is easy to forget what those gravestones and fluttering flags mean, easy to fly on past the cemetery, headed for the lake or ball game without giving it a thought. …
“You may have your own personal touchstone to remember Memorial Day. A friend or relative lost in Afghanistan or Iraq, or on the high seas or in the air. Perhaps someone who never returned from Korea or Vietnam, or the Marine barracks in Lebanon. Remember them. Give thanks for them. Consider, for a few moments, the cost of duty.
“If no such personal connection exists, go and visit a cemetery. Go to those little flags fluttering by the stones. Pick out one, or just consider the hundreds, the thousands, the hundreds of thousands, that mark the long road of duty … and of sacrifice.”
To honor those who died fighting to protect our freedom and to remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, Congress passed a “National Movement of Remembrance” resolution in December 2000 asking all Americans at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day — Monday — “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a memorial of remembrance and respect, pausing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”
For their sacrifice, we can do nothing less.
This editorial is traditionally published for Memorial Day.