Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

The following is from the U.S. Memorial Day History and Information website:

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day... It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his
General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

After World War I the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

How can we observe Memorial Day today? According to the website:

The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice:
  • by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.

  • by visiting memorials.

  • by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.

  • by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).

  • by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.

  • by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.
The words to "Taps":

(Note: there are no "official" words to Taps
below are the most popular.)

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,This we know,
God is nigh.

In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day.

Below are pictures from 2001 when C was in scouts and his troop (along with several other troops from our area) placed flags at the gravesites at Mountain Home National Cemetery.

It was very moving to see those boys decorate the cemetery. As you can see above, the scout would plant the flag, step back, read the tombstone, and salute. There were times when I felt that I was intruding.

Happy Memorial Day! Remember: Freedom isn't free.


  1. I never knew there was more than 1 verse to Taps. C looks so little there, but what an honor it must have been to have been there and to have seen him do that!

  2. Thanks for the Taps words. I knew there was a verse or two. Loved the boy scout pictures too. Our church met with the Baptist church in Waverly and had a prayer and then the children put flags on the veterans graves. It is such a sweet moment.