Remember the Reason For Memorial Day


Revolutionary War 1775 to 1783 4,435 US dead

War of 1812 1812 to 1815 2,260 US dead

Mexican War 1846 to 1848 1,773 US dead

Civil War 1861 to 1865 approx. 600,000 USA/CSA dead

Spanish Amer. War 1898 2,446 US dead

WWI 1917 -1918 116, 516 US dead

WWII 1941-1945 405, 399 US dead

Korean War 1950-1953 36, 914 US dead

Vietnam War 1958-1973 58, 167 US dead

War on Terrorists 2001 to present nearly 3000 sept 11, 2001

Iraq/Afghanistan approx 5900

Normandy Cemetery

Normandy Cemetery

Today, we hear on TV that Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer more than we hear of it’s original meaning.  According to this article concerning The history of Memorial Day, it’s origins go back to the close of the Civil War, though in what many may consider an unexpected manner: 

“Yale University historian David Blight places the first Memorial Day in April 1865, when a group of former slaves gathered at a Charleston, S.C., horse track turned Confederate prison where more than 250 Union soldiers had died. Digging up the soldiers’ mass grave, they interred the bodies in individual graves, built a 100-yd. fence around them and erected an archway over the entrance bearing the words “Martyrs of the Race Course.” On May 1, 1865, some 10,000 black Charleston residents, white missionaries, teachers, schoolchildren and Union troops marched around the Planters’ Race Course, singing and carrying armfuls of roses. Gathering in the graveyard, the crowd watched five black preachers recite scripture and a children’s choir sing spirituals and  ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.'”

 To be sure, there were Memorial Day activities for both the soldiers of the Union and the Confederacy in both the North and South. Eventually, the individual events were combined and in the 20th century became recognized as a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our nation. In your time of barbecue, family gatherings and fun…take a moment to remember those who have made it possible for you to have such a holiday. It is not just a day off from work, but instead is a day of remembrance and thanks to the men, women and families who laid such a sacrifice on the altar of liberty. Snow White and I have attended the services at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. I don’t know anyone who has died though we did visit the final resting place of her uncle’s cousin who lost his life on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. He was just 19. No, we went to pay our respects for all of those in our American brotherhood whose graves remind us that our freedom was paid for by others. We should not take it for granted nor as something that is a right or something that is perpetual. It is a privilege and must be fought for to maintain. Lest we forget….

4 Responses

  1. A lovely post, poignant and true. I wonder sometimes what will happen as more and more of those who still remember WWII begin to pass away. I don’t mean to denigrate any veteran of any more recent war or “action”, but there seems to have been a different understanding of war in that generation. As I remember my dad telling me once, “it was absolutely horrible, and absolutely necessary”.

    You’re right – others have paid the price for the life we have today. We should be willing to pay a price to secure that life for generations to come, if necessary.

  2. I heard an Aussie ask a veteran the other day “how are you going to celebrate?” While its good to take time with the family and such, it’s really not a celebration day though I suppose one might say one could celebrate the freedom bought by these men and women’s sacrifice. I prefer to think of it as the name says… a memorial. I thought that the origin issue was kinda interesting.

  3. .No matter what you think of war every human life is precious and those who valiantly marched into battle deserve to be remembered as the heroes that they were.

  4. This spring in an Arizona high school, I am Vietnam Infantry War Veteran and was kicked out of a high school because I talked negatively about the late Emperor of Japan Hirohito. I did not single him out the two girls did. I was talking about Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. The two girls shouted me down and accused of being racist against all Asians. They determined this without even really talking to me. I was substitute teaching and I went back to high school to help young adults become better adults. I am currently working on my Masters for secondary education. The school backed the two girls and Hirohito and filed an incident report, one more and I’m fired. I asked the school district if they could pull the report from my file and they said “no.” The district is backing the two girls and Hirohito as well. I asked a member at the district if they knew who Hirohito was and they said “no.” I said have you heard of the “Rape of Nanking” and they said “no.” I said, how about the “Bataan Death March.” and they said “no.” Only in America, can this happened!

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