Memorial Day History
Just got an email from our base commandor here in Iraq and thought you guys might enjoy a little history lesson. Happy Holidays from Iraq.
Memorial Day is the time for Americans to reconnect with their history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives for the ideals we cherish. More than a million American service members died in wars and conflicts this nation fought since the first Colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence. Each person who died during those conflicts was a loved one cherished by family and friends. Each was a loss to the community and the nation.
The observance of this day was born of compassion and empathy in 1863. As the Civil War raged, grieving mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and other loved ones were cleaning Confederate soldiers’ graves in Columbus, Mississippi, placing flowers on them. They noticed nearby Union soldiers’ graves, dusty, overgrown with weeds. Grieving for their own fallen soldiers, the Confederate women understood that the dead Union soldiers buried nearby where the cherished loved ones of families and communities far away. They cleared the tangled brush and mud from those graves as well as their own soldiers’ graves and laid flowers on them too.
Soon the tradition of a “Decoration Day’ for the graves of fallen soldiers spread. On May 5, 1866, when the Civil War was over, Henry Welles of Waterloo, New York, closed his drugstore and suggested that all other shops in town close up for the a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War, Union and Confederate alike. It was a gesture of healing and reconciliation in a land ripped apart by conflict. Sixteen years later, in 1882, the nation observed its first official Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our nation’s wars.
Memorial Day is not about picnics and ballgames. It is about those brave Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Airmen who died wearing their country’s uniform…. Fighting for and defending their country and what it stood for. They died defending a way of life that they felt was worth dying for…. duty, honor, families, freedom and American values. On this most solemn holiday, we must stop and consider the great sacrifices that others have made so that we may have the freedom and prosperity we enjoy today. Let us consider what those valiant warriors were fighting for….and let us honor each and every one of them this coming Monday….with a thought and prayer….it is the least we can do. Because of their sacrifice they have given us our tomorrows.