Memorial Day 2017

suvcw1Headquarters Grand Army of the Republic

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, 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 no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

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; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN, Adjutant General

Official:

WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

And so began one of America’s most solemn holidays. It nearly always featured the reading of the names of veterans departed during and after the war. It is very close in meaning to the British (and Commonwealth’s) Remembrance Day, for it too commemorates a lost generation. In 1860 the population of the United States (free and slave) was 31,443,321. Out of that population in the next five years there would be over 600,000 casualties or one out of every 52 people, and they were mostly young men.
They were nearly all volunteers, both sides had a draft but, in both cases it was ineffective and easily evaded. These were men who said what they meant and meant what they said, and proved it with their devotion to their cause. We’ve talked about them before and we shall again but, today let’s listen to some of their legacy, the music of America. These were losses on the scale of what Britain suffered in the Great War, and yet somehow we continued, carrying out our perceived mission.

I’ll note that this was heard again, after 9/11 at the 69th’s Armory, played by a young Jewish violinist.

Rumor has it that this may be what the brigades fifers and drummers were playing

And the 69th New York that we spoke of earlier wasn’t far away, along with their compatriots in the Irish Brigade

But in these sad times, we are watching as the South is forced to abandon its history, and the glory of its stand. You know that takes away much of the glory of those boys men that fought for the Union as well. It always wrong, very wrong to attempt to delete any part of our history. He’s some of what those Southrons listened to.

Yep, another Irish brigade, this one dressed in gray (or more likely butternut) and from Texas.

This is a famous one

And you know, when it was all over, Old Abe himself came out of the White House and asked the band to play this one.

Those fools can attempt to eliminate the heritage of those brave Americans, but you know, that heritage belongs as President Lincoln said, to the nation now. Back in 1862 Julia ward Howe rode through the camps surrounding Washington. When she got back to Willard’s hotel she wrote a poem, you may have heard it once or twice. I sat here and cried when it was sung in the Queen’s presence at St. Paul’s after 9/11.

Here, in Billy Yank and Johnny Reb as they called each other, is the key to what America was, and would become. They still march in our souls.

As other wars happened, the losses in those wars were added to the lists, and the roll of the honored dead lengthened along with the list of faraway places with strange sounding names, which had once seen American soldiers, and their willingness to die for the cause.
And all those people also came to know one of America’s most dread but also most loved tunes, as we said goodbye to our comrades.
And so as you go about your day this Memorial Day, spare a thought and prayer for Johnny Reb and Billy Yank, those Americans who fought so hard for freedom, that they destroyed slavery as a by-product. They are also the only armies I know of that after a battle, or in camp would cheer themselves hoarse for each other.
In these sad days, when many denigrate the Faith of our Fathers, as well as the many virtues of our fallen soldiers, and indeed history itself. It is indeed fitting that we celebrate that these men did indeed once live and continue to inspire us.
Fort McPherson National Cemetery

Fort McPherson National Cemetery

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God
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7 Responses to Memorial Day 2017

  1. the unit says:

    Today’s blog post a writing and composition as befitting a remembrance of this Memorial Day as I’ve ever read. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      Thank you.

      Like

  2. Reblogged this on Practically Historical.

    Like

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  6. GP Cox says:

    Liked by 1 person

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