The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.”

Memorial Day is a day for reflection and a day to give thanks. It is a day for honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, those who gave, as President Lincoln once said, their “last full measure of devotion.” 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. It originated during the American Civi War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. 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.

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4 Comments on “The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.””

  1. Rowen Says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    A partly cloudy and windy day again with a high in the low 90s.

    Memorial Day is the day that we should be thinking about the men and woman who gave their lives in all the past wars, both declared and undeclared. When I was a kid I was fascinated watching the President lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns in Airlington National Cemetery. I couldn’t figure out how they knew that the unknown soldiers were members of our side. Why didn’t they have their dog tag around their neck? Could we have accidentally buried a Nazi soldier?

    When I was older I was opposed to the Vietnam war, because I couldn’t figure out how defeating the North Vietnamese was going to make us safer here in the U.S. I thought then and now that the domino theory was stupid. I dropped my student deferment in 1968 and allowed myself to go into the first draft lottery. I figured the first lottery would have the largest number of men who drew the same birthday reducing my chances of being drafted. My birthday came up number 346. I basically won the draft lottery.

    It’s difficult for me to fathom the number of wars we have been involved in since the end of the Vietnam War. Somehow, the attack on 911, had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein in Iraq or the Tribal leaders in Afghanistan, but we sent in troops anyway who were killed or severely maimed. It turned out that Osama Ben Laden was hiding out in plain sight in Pakistan who is our ally.

    The men and woman who served and gave their lives, it really doesn’t matter if a war is a just cause or not. Only the loved ones of those Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines have first hand knowledge of the grief caused by their loss.

    • katry Says:

      I Bob,
      Sorry for the delay in answering, but I’ve been in the hospital. I’ll explain it all on tomorrow’s Coffee. I got home this afternoon

      That is a good question. My guess is the unknown was wearing a US uniform. Wee will never have another unknown with all the advances in identification of bodies. They have even identified soldiers from WWII found recently They used the DNA of family members like nieces or nephews.

      I never supported the Vietnam War. The so-called reason for it harkens back to Eisenhower and the domino theory. If one country goes, all the others will follow into Communism. My brother had a student deferment for about half a semester when e flunked out of school. He ended up in Germany instead of Vietnam.

      Bush led us into a lie by claiming Hussein had WMD’s. We sheepishly followed. My friend lost her brother in Vietnam and another lost his son in Afghanistan. Two men who believed staunchly they were fighting to keep this country free.


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