Archive for May 30th, 2011

May 30, 2011

“Soldier’s Memorial Day,”





Soldier’s Memorial Day,”
Words by Mary B. C. Slade and music by W. O. Perkins, 1870.
Historic American Sheet Music,1850-1920

John Logan
Maj. Gen. John A. Logan,
Brady National Photographic Art Gallery, between 1860 and 1865.
Selected Civil War Photographs

In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a memorial day “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 churchyard in the land.”

The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day. In many American towns, the day is celebrated with a parade.

Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the Civil War’s end. Records show that by 1865, Mississippi, Virginia, and South Carolina all had precedents for Memorial Day. Songs in the Duke University collection Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 include hymns published in the South such as these two from 1867: “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping,” dedicated to “The Ladies of the South Who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead ” and “Memorial Flowers,” dedicated “To the Memory of Our Dead Heroes.”

Decoration Day parade
Decoration Day Parade (detail), Brownsville, Texas,
Robert Runyon, photographer, 1916.
The South Texas Border, 1900-1920

When a women’s memorial association in Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers on April 25, 1866, this act of generosity and reconciliation prompted an editorial piece, published by Horace Greeley‘s New York Tribune, and a poem by Francis Miles Finch, “The Blue and the Grey,” published in the Atlantic Monthly. The practice of strewing flowers on soldiers’ graves soon became popular throughout the reunited nation.

President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed Waterloo, New York, as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day,” because it began a formal observance on May 5, 1866. However, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, also claims to have held the first observance, based on an observance dating back to October 1864. Indeed, many other towns also lay claim to being the first to hold an observance.

In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended the honor to all soldiers who died in American wars. A few states continue to celebrate Memorial Day on May 30.

Today, national observance of the holiday still takes place at Arlington National Cemetery with the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the decoration of each grave with a small American flag. Protocol for flying the American flag on Memorial Day includes raising it quickly to the top of the pole at sunrise, immediately lowering it to half-staff until noon, and displaying it at full staff from noon until sunset. For other guidelines see the Flag Code.

Many veterans of the Vietnam War, and relatives and friends of those who fought in that conflict, make a pilgrimage over Memorial Day weekend to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where they pay their respects to another generation of fallen soldiers.

Gerard St. George Walker's gravestone
Gravestone of Gerard St. George Walker, Lieutenant U.S.N.R.,
Theodor Horydczak, photographer, circa 1920-1950.
Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959

Figures at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sailor and Girl at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia,
John Collier, photographer, May 1943.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945

When flow’ry Summer is at hand,
And Spring has gemm’d the earth with bloom,
We hither bring, with loving hand,
Bright flow’rs to deck our soldier’s tomb.

Gentle birds above are sweetly singing
O’er the graves of heroes brave and true;
While the sweetest flow’rs we are bringing,
Wreath’d in garlands of red, white and blue.

With snowy hawthorn, clusters white,
Fair violets of heav’nly blue,
And early roses, fresh and bright,
We wreathe the red, and white, and blue.”Soldier’s Memorial Day,”
words by Mary B. C. Slade and music by W. O. Perkins, 1870.
Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920


Dedicated to:
The U.S. Secret Army In the Kingdom of Laos 1961 – 1973

In Memory of Legions Lost and the
Soldiers of the Secret War in Laos.


We stand in tribute of forgotten men…for their sacrifice, courage
valor and honor. We honor them by this living memorial…starkly
beautiful in its simplicity, for it stands defiantly alone, as did those
soldiers in their seasons of death. It will serve as a poignant reminder
of our battlefield allies, and is a tribute long overdue to proud Human
endeavor…courage and valor in a long war lost in the unfulfilled hopes
for Southeast Asia.

May 30, 2011

Opinion: Memorial Day 2011

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By Ross A. Muscato | Email the author | 11:30am

Let This Year Be The Year That The “Protected” Resolve To Do More For Veterans And Active Duty Men And Women.

Only yesterday I learned that it wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day – formerly called Decoration Day (as it is still in some quarters) – was officially declared a national holiday.

It is a sacred day.

Here is an excerpt, from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website, that provides background information on the origins of Memorial Day:

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country

Decoration Day became Memorial Day, a day of commemoration for those who throughout U.S. history gave their lives in defense of this nation.  It is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May.

Reflection, showing and feeling gratitude, and thinking about the preservation of the eternal human rights of freedom and liberty for which these blessed people gave their lives, is all good.  But I believe we can take the occasion of this Memorial Day to say thanks and honor the sacrifice of those who fell, were wounded – and anyone who wore the uniform of our armed forces – with a commitment to a more engaged and active form of thinking about and saying thanks.

Of course, those who actually served in our armed forces are the best and bravest and noblest of our populace  Our veterans and those presently serving are walking the walk and talking the talk – and I don’t presume to be worthy of offering any one of them a suggestion on service and sacrifice.

Yet there are those like myself – civilians and the protected who have never worn the uniform – who can do so much more than they are presently doing to help our military.  I do a tiny bit of volunteering in this area, but it is tiny, and I need to do more.

There are many wonderful people out there who give selflessly and with tremendous love and passion to improve the lives of our service men and women.

I want to follow their lead.   More and more of us should follow their lead.

If you are a writer, cannot you give your time to a returning vet looking for work through helping him or her write a cover letter, or a resume, or helping the vet to tell his or her story for a journal or article, or even a book?

How about you accountants?  Think you could donate tax preparation or tax advice services to a vet who needs help in this area?

For sure, there are many doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who donate considerable amount of time to our armed forces.  But how about you in the healthcare profession who aren’t donating time – could you find the time to give in this area, at least a little?

You haven’t participated in a “troops care package” event yet?   Well, now is the time.

Get yourself a pen pal – someone serving right now – and write to him or her, on snail mail or email, or both.

Attorneys?  Vets need help with contracts and other legal advice.

Contact the volunteer department of the VA Boston Healthcare System – which includes the Brockton VA Campus –to volunteer.  Here is a link to a web page that has info on volunteering with the VA Boston Healthcare System:

The Wounded Warrior Project is doing God’s work  – serving U.S. injured service men and women.  Here is a link to the Wounded Warrior Project website.

On the subject of God’s work  – Homes For Our Troops ( “builds specially adapted homes four our severely injured veterans” who served since September 11, 2001 – “at no cost to the veterans we serve.”  Homes Four Our Troops (HFOT), based next door in Taunton, and founded by local construction professional, John Gonsalves, has built more than 100 homes across the nation for veterans.

HFOT could use donations and volunteer help.

Fisher House Foundation ( – a national treasure – donates “‘comfort homes,’ built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.”

This is just a sampling of suggestions of ways to help – and a listing highly reputable charity groups helping our veterans.

Limitless are the opportunities to give and support our veterans and active duty military personnel.

On this Memorial Day let us resolve to do give more for those who have given – some who have given all – to defend our liberties and preserve our republic.

God Bless America.

The true meaning of Memorial Day

It’s not just about parades, picnics and barbecues

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Updated: Monday, 30 May 2011, 10:39 AM EDT
Published : Friday, 27 May 2011, 5:07 PM EDT

(WPRI) – This Monday, many Americans will spend a day off from work or school going to parades, attending barbecues or taking advantage of Memorial Day sales. But, how many will actually stop to remember the true meaning of the holiday?

Ask any military family who has lost a family member to war or a person who has a loved one deployed overseas and they will likely tell you Memorial Day is not a celebration. It’s not a happy day. It was never intended as the unofficial start to summer or a big day for race fans. It’s a somber occasion meant to honor the men and women who have died in service of the country.

“Many people look at it as a time to relax, have a hamburger and enjoy a parade,” said retired Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, Rhode Island National Guard . “We’ve basically forgotten the main reason for Memorial Day; and that’s to really remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The holiday, originally called Decoration Day, started in the Civil War era; when the graves of those killed in action were adorned with wreaths. In 1971, Congress declared it a national holiday to be observed the last Monday in May. Since then, many veterans groups have lobbied for a return to the traditional observance of May 30, saying the creation of the national holiday further eroded the day’s meaning.

“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day,” the VFW said in a 2002 Memorial Day address.

In order to remind Americans about the true meaning of Memorial Day, President Bill Clinton in 2000 issued the National Moment of Remembrance resolution. It asked all Americans to “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.'”

So, while it’s okay to enjoy a day off from work or school to go to a parade, attend a barbecue, or take advantage of those sales; why not take a quiet moment to remember those who sacrificed it all for all of us. It’s the least we can do.

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