Due to the pandemic this Memorial Day, we will not be gathering in large groups to pay tribute to those that gave all in service to our country. However, the current challenges should not stop us from reflecting on the purpose and history of Memorial Day.
Our nation has been gathering on this occasion for some 154 years. Memorial Day didn’t appear early on in our nation’s history. Rather, it came some 90 years after the Revolutionary War. Today’s Memorial Day was born in the spring of 1866, the first spring after the end of the Civil War. It was observed during May by the families of the more than 214,000 union and confederate soldiers that fell during that war.
The families simply visited and placed flowers on the graves of their fallen. A veteran’s organization of that era, the “Grand Army of the Republic” eventually proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day. Many years later it became today’s Memorial Day.
Our nation had fought numerous wars in the 90 years between 1776 and the Civil War. However, the Civil War was unlike any of those earlier conflicts that we had fought against external foes.
Those first gatherings focused on honoring the fallen from the war that saved our nation from self-destruction. Since that spring in 1866, many more of our nation’s sons and daughters have sacrificed their lives to preserve our nation.
To those of us that have worn the uniform it remains a special responsibility and duty to hold true to the ideals that our fallen brothers and sisters sacrificed their lives for.
We and future generations must never forget those that paid the ultimate price in the struggle to protect this nation. As we observe Memorial Day please pause for a few moments and ponder a sentence that was penned by our forefathers. That sentence is from the declaration of independence;
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As we observe this important day, let us all remain true to those simple words that sets our nation apart from all other nations today.