Monday, May 26, 2008

Decoration Day

Thank you, fallen soldiers. Thank you for keeping America the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. The first actual observance of a "Decoration Day" occurred in 1865 when freed blacks reinterred Union soldiers at a former Confederate prison, from the mass grave the Confederates buried them in into individual graves. Then the following year, a large number of blacks returned to the site, decorated the graves, and then held a parade with lots of singing and dancing following.

By that time, of course, communities throughout the South (and a handful in the North) had begun honoring their dead from the Civil War; in Mississippi, strangely enough, they held their own Decoration Day in 1866 honoring both Confederate and Union dead. It eventually evolved, as many holidays do, into a 3-day weekend meant for camping, picnicking, and car races.

However, being a history lover and America lover, I always take time to honor the soldiers who have given their lives so we can continue to enjoy our camping, picnicking, and car races. Memorial Day is for honoring soldiers who died during military service.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army
Written in 1915, the first year of World War One

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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