by Tommy Clack
Today, we observe America’s 150th Annual Memorial Day. This tradition stems from the greatest internal strife this nation has ever known, its one and only “War Between The States,” 1861-1865.
On July 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation establishing that the President of the United States shall have the power “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery.
In May 1866 in Columbus, GA, the wives and friends of the Confederate Army “adorned the graves of those killed in action while serving both sides, the Confederacy and the Union.”
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, then Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order No. 11. It established May 30 as “a day to garnish the graves of the nation’s fallen with flowers.”
Arlington, once the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, already held the remains of over 20,000 Union dead and 4,000+ Confederate dead. All the graves were adorned. Just recently, the 400,000th burial occurred, in Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform National Holiday Observance Law, creating Mondays as the day to observe national holidays. Memorial Day is observed the last Monday of May. Our Country now adorns American military personnel grave sites with a small American Flag. All such graves sites, in private, public and national cemeteries, should be adorned in a similar fashion.
We also hold special ceremonies, parades and gatherings to honor all who have sacrificed their life in the service of our Country, during war and peace.
Today, we salute those who paid the ultimate price – men and women, all ethnic heritages – in answering the call to arms. They did so, as a tombstone in Arlington was engraved on it, “not for fame or reward, not for place or rank, not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men and women suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all and died.” Each and everyone bled red blood!
Since our founding, over 1,200,000+ Americans have laid down their life to insure America stayed the exceptional beacon of freedom to the world. Americans have been inserted in 287 places in the world, In Harm’s Way, and all were willing to live out the words in JOHN 15:13, “No greater love has this, than a man lay down his life for his friend,”
The tradition of Memorial Day can be traced back nearly 25 centuries, to 436 B.C., when the Athenian leader, Pericles, offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the 34 year Peloponnesian Wars. He said, “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone, but in our hearts.”
Each and every one of our fallen “is engraved in our hearts.” As the ultimate tribute to all we honor this day, let us live by the now famous words of President Lincoln: “It is for us, the living, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they have thus far so nobly advanced.”
Ask yourself, “Am I living a life that is worthy of their sacrifice?” Let us all insure that we continue to advance the future of America and that we never forget those who served and died to insure our future.
Please join us for the Annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Walk of Heroes at 11am. The program is .