Our view: Make time to remember our fallen heroesWhen appraising the significance of Memorial Day by means of how it is traditionally observed by many “Woodburyians,” one might conclude what the day memorializes is its cultural status as the unofficial first holiday of summer.
When appraising the significance of Memorial Day by means of how it is traditionally observed by many “Woodburyians,” one might conclude what the day memorializes is its cultural status as the unofficial first holiday of summer.
In all fairness, that isn’t a perception held exclusively by the locals. It’s simply how the annual occurrence tends to get viewed by a majority of Americans.
The true purpose of the holiday tends to get lost in the rush to a beach, a campground or a picnic area.
No, Memorial Day was intended to be a hallowed time for our nation, not an occasion reduced to a recreational opportunity. And, strictly speaking, it isn’t even in summer. Perhaps a history lesson is in order.
Memorial Day as we know it originated from “General Order Number 11 of the Grand Army of the Republic,” issued May 5, 1868 by retired Union General John Logan. These are excerpts from Logan’s commandment:
“(This day) is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet church-yard in the land.
“In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
“We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.
“What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms.
“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders…
“Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time. Let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor…”
Logan’s words were composed for a late-19th century population. His thoughts, however, remain timely in America’s perilous days of the early-21st century.
Of course, we don’t expect people to radically alter their holiday weekend plans simply because we’ve reprinted some of Gen. Logan’s thoughts on the subject.
But if possible, make time to pay your respects to our fallen heroes by attending Woodbury’s Memorial Day program. It will take place at the new Woodbury Lions Veterans Memorial, situated near Woodbury City Hall. The ceremony will start at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 25.
If you are unable to physically attend the program, try this instead: Take a moment to reflect upon the men and women who gave — and are giving — their lives to protect our freedom as you enjoy the holiday.
Their sacrifices gave us the unintended liberty of taking Memorial Day for granted.