Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, the day we as Americans have set aside to remember those who gave their lives for us, and for others. Americans have always been willing to die for freedom, and far too many have. Memorial Day (which was Decoration day until roughly World War II) was established by the people, not the government, after the Civil War, originally recognizing the war dead of the Federal Army, in time it expanded to all American war dead, even the Confederate, also in time those war dead spread around the world. In England, France, Italy, Australia, the Philippines, and elsewhere, as America became the champion of freedom worldwide.

A hundred years ago, American troops were just beginning to firm up the Allied lines in France, they would go on to attack and seal the doom of the German Empire. Sammies, I’m told the French called them, after Uncle Sam, they called themselves doughboys, often shortened to dough.

But was there any meaning to all those men dying in France? Well, it’s kind of in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Here’s the eye of one beholder, Vera Brittain, a British nurse serving in France.

“Only a day or two afterwards I was leaving quarters to go back to my ward, when I had to wait to let a large contingent of troops march past me along the main road that ran through our camp.  They were swinging rapidly towards Camiers, and though the sight of soldiers marching was too familiar to arouse curiosity, an unusual quality of bold vigour in their swift stride caused me to stare at them with puzzled interest.

They looked larger than ordinary men; their tall, straight figures were in vivid contrast to the under-sized armies of pale recruits to which we had grown accustomed.  At first I thought their spruce, clean uniforms were those of officers, yet obviously they could not be officers, for there were too many of them; they seemed, as it were, Tommies in heaven.  Had yet another regiment been conjured from our depleted Dominions?  I wondered, watching them move with such rhythm, such dignity, such serene consciousness of self-respect.  But I knew the colonial troops so well, and these were different; they were assured where the Australians were aggressive, self-possessed where the New Zealanders were turbulent.

Then I heard an excited exclamation from a group of Sisters behind me.

‘Look! Look!  Here are the Americans.!’

I pressed forward with the others to watch the United States physically entering the war, so God-like, so magnificent, so splendidly unimpaired in comparison with the tired, nerve-racked men of the British Army.  So these were our deliverers at last, marching up the road to Camiers in the spring sunshine!  There seemed to be hundreds of them, and in the fearless swagger of their proud strength they looked a formidable bulwark against the peril looming from Amiens.

…An uncontrollable emotion seized me – as such emotions often seized us in those days of insufficient sleep; my eyeballs pricked, my throat ached, and a mist swam over the confident Americans going to the front.  The coming of relief made me realise all at once how long and how intolerable had been the tension, and with the knowledge that we were not, after all, defeated, I found myself beginning to cry.”

From ” Look! Here are the Americans!” The U.S. in World War I and Popular Memory

Today is the day to remember all those we left behind.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

18 Responses to Memorial Day

  1. Pingback: Memorial Day | All Along the Watchtower

  2. Nicholas says:

    These days, for whatever reason, I often find myself singing, “Goodbye-ee” from WWI. Earlier this year I saw Peter Jackson’s film containing the testimonies of men who had fought in the Great War – a sobering experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      It really is, no matter which country. Strangely, many of the memoirs from our Civil War war read quite similarly, without the gas, thank God, but all the rest was already there, a huge change from the Napoleonic Wars.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicholas says:

        For those at home, too, it was a frightening experience, since it was a war on your own home soil. I think of the civilians and wounded soldiers in Atlanta when Sherman came, of people in the countryside molested by deserters, and of the occupying forces following the war: Provost Marshalls, etc. I am afraid, despite being a professing Christian, it is very difficult for me to shift my sympathy from the Confederacy. But of course, the northerners suffered too. I imagine that boys and men from States such as Massachusets and Maine must have struggled in the southern swamps. Medicine being what it was then, and supplies being cut off, the surgeries and bedbugs, etc, must have been horrifying. Truly, nurses must have seemed like angels from heaven to those men.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          The medical services on both sides were, in a word horrific, not least because what there were of them didn’t scale well. Stretcher bearers were usually the slackers of the companies, and no projectile was ever so damaging as those minnie balls, which shattered bones so badly, that almost any shot in an arm or leg would cost that limb, and without antiseptic knowledge and anesthetic too.

          I too, sympathize with the South, they were fighting just as the North was for their vision of America. They owned slaves, but their slaves owned them, as well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          Indeed. Although various elements of southern culture survived the war, it was, overall, the loss of a civilisation. I fear that actually the world as a whole is poorer for its loss. We have developed so quickly in technology and other things, but I do not think that entails our culture has adapted to cope with the problems it raises. The fast pace of life today is killing our souls as well as our bodies. To some extent, I think the French author of “Le Suicide”, Emile Durkheim, was correct.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          We did, but it was pretty much obsolete. Not very different from feudal England. It had attractive parts, many of them, but it was not really suited for the world of 1860, let alone today.

          Liked by 1 person

    • the unit says:

      Evening watching this video on which I’d never heard of Goodbye-ee was a sobering experience to get drunk about. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. the unit says:

    VDH’s article today has drawn these comments…pro and con…
    “Stick • 3 hours ago
    Our fallen warriors, who we honor today, may rest easy again now that a real American is, once again, at the helm of our nation. This love of nation seems to spreading around the globe based on this week’s election results. Never let the bastards defeat us. Sic Semper Tyranus.”
    And…
    “Dave781 Stick • 2 hours ago
    To suggest that our fallen warriors would want an orange dictator at the helm of our nation is an obscenity. Leave our fallen heroes out of it.”
    https://amgreatness.com/2019/05/26/colluders-obstructionists-leakers-and-other-projectionists/
    I think they’ve stopped turning over and over and are lying back watching now what transpires with Barr’s investigation of the investigation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. the unit says:

    From the picture of the marker over AATW, the epitaph chiseled on it about “Known but to God”, do any markers relate who is buried there? I read somewhere yesterday or today that at some point after burial at some cemeteries, family had the remains exhumed and sent back home for burial. So some must have been known.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Two more from Luxembourg, the same photographer.

      and

      Most are, in fact, known, I think, at least from World War II. If I understand the families had the option to have the repatriated, but many thought they should remain with their compatriots. Not overly different than having them buried in Arlington really.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        No, and I wasn’t questioning any decision about those concerned. Just wondering? I guess all, including us, are really only “Known but to God”, where it counts. Eh?

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, that’s where it matters, none of them are here any more, but we will again see them.

          Like

        • the unit says:

          The good right? Not the Bad and The Ugly!
          A fellow died two weeks ago that I worked with for several years, years ago now. With today’s communication tech most of us who worked there as far back as even the late ’60’s announce when we hear a fellow former co-worker kicks the bucket. As I saw the first day obit, I emailed the usual person who informs us all about it. No general notice email to all came back during the two weeks. So I thought maybe the usual email master person’s email got overwhelmed and deleted, so sent another about it. I got a response.
          They knew a side of the person I didn’t, so thus why ignoring the death.
          I’m not going to let them know when I kick the bucket. I kinda like “Known but to God.” 🙂
          I’ll be interested in hearing what really happened to Gen. Patton. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          It was rather strange, and I’ve never seen a good explanation. Maybe it really was an accident, they do happen. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Yep, most accidents are accidents. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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