“On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!”

Memorial Day is a day for thanks and a day for reflection. I hope you remember those to whom we owe so much. This is my annual tribute

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.” While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860′s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day

“Dulce et decorum est”

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.

The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.

Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.

Joyce Kilmer

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13 Comments on ““On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!””

  1. flyboybob Says:

    Unfortunately, the meaning of Memorial Day has been taken over by auto racing, baseball games, outdoor cookouts and big sales. Although the cause that our servicemen and woman fought for may not have been just nor of any value to mankind, the fact that they answered their country’s call and gave the ultimate sacrifice should never be forgotten. Those who returned broken, shattered and crippled should also not be forgotten by the very system that was established to help.

    The VA system is a terrible bureaucracy that devalues rather than elevates our wounded veterans sacrifice. My father was a WWII vet and the VA hospital lost his paperwork from one office to another next to each other. I guess that was the special treatment they gave veterans like my dad who had a service related disability. 🙂

    WWI was the war to end all wars but laid the seeds for WWII. All the later conflicts were a result of the failures of the United Nations. Vietnam and Iraq were terrible mistakes that made the world less safe but kept the military industrial complex humming along. I find it interesting that in WWI a soldier was shell shocked. In WWII he suffered from battle fatigue. Now after Vietnam he has PTSD. It doesn’t sound as bad and makes warfare seem less brutal.

    The military has learned it’s lessons after Vietnam. They don’t allow the press the same access that they did for reporters like the late Morley Safer and Dan Rather. Bringing the horror of war into everyone’s living room nightly helped to turn the public from supporting the Vietnam fiasco.

    Are the Red Sox playing today?

    • katry Says:

      Memorial Day is meant to honor whose who made the greatest sacrifice, their lives, to this country. I think in small towns and villages like mine the day still has meaning. Flags are placed on the graves and each village has a parade (most postponed today because of the rain).

      My dad who also served in WWII chose not to take advantage of his disability. He figured it didn’t bother him so why make a great deal of it. He was 17 when his ship was hit and only he was pulled from the water from his part of the ship.

      I think that great effort is being expended in bringing the VA to higher standards.

      Soldiers who were considered shell shocked were seen as weak, incapable of fighting in war. PTSD is a more humane way to label the syndrome not the soldier.

      The US thought itself invulnerable. They should have learned it isn’t so in Korea. The United States also saw itself as the savior based on a wrong premise, the domino effect.

      You are so right about the nightly news bringing the Vietnam war home.

    • katry Says:

      The Sox are playing at 1:30.

      • flyboybob Says:

        My dad’s service disability was also very minor and he never went to the VA until he was in his late 70s. He was having an issue with double vision so I drove him to the VA hospital. The clerk who took his application made a big issue that he had a service related disability and would receive special treatment. After waiting for three hours to be called for an appointment I discovered that they had lost his application going from the office where the clerk took his paperwork and the office next door where the appointments were made. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        My father almost lost a leg from being so long in the cold Atlanta before he was saved. His other leg was also in tough shape. He ended up in an English hospital in Plymouth with both legs in casts after surgery. He need told his parents and they had to have the Red Cross help find him. He was all of 17.

  2. Hedley Says:

    Geoffrey was 17, and in to the 1/16 London Regiment he went. You had to be 5′ 3″ to fight. His papers said he was 5′ 3 1/2″ – not even close but I am sure a lot of men were that height. He fought for two years including Arras, until he was gassed

    On June 6th 1944 the door dropped on the landing craft at 7:15 am and Eric Howarth lead his troops ashore, wounded and made a major in the field. That was not his real name, but Eric was an X Troop Commando, a young man of extraordinary bravery and athletic prowess. Eric was Geoffrey’s nephew and was to die in Holland at the age of 22.

    My Grandfather , my cousin, I remember them today and honor their memory with love for the one that I knew and for the one that I did not.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I think of my friend’s brother who was killed in Vietnam and one of my former students who died on his third tour to Afghanistan. They were both so young but so eager to do battle, to fight for their country.

      I honor both of them and all the others who lost their lives.

  3. Richard Says:

    In honor of those who have given all so that we may be free. Memorial Day is the holiday which makes every other holiday possible.

    Corb Lund – Horse Soldier …


    Taps – with the words …

  4. olof1 Says:

    No such day here, after all we haven’t been to war since Napoleon’s days.

    Really nice weather here today so I’m mostly outside 🙂

    Have a great day!


    • katry Says:

      It is still raining on and off here. A little while ago it was torrential then it stopped.

      We have had far too many killed in wars. The least we can do is forever thank them for their sacrifice.

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