Monday, May 30, 2016
The tradition of Memorial Day, begun shortly after the Civil War, was originally called "Decoration Day" and was a day when Americans would visit their local cemeteries and decorate the graves of the war dead with flags and flowers. It was a true grass roots tradition, not becoming a national holiday until 1971.
Local communities all over the country have historically had their own observances of this solemn holiday, and our local community is no exception. We attended a Memorial Day parade this morning, which is OUR tradition as a family. It is never easy to get up "early" on a day when we could sleep in, but it is always worth it and is the least we can do to honor and remember those who gave their lives defending our freedom.
When dedicating the battlefield cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 4 months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln gave his now famous "Gettysburg Address." He said so much with so few words. I have always loved this speech, and I think it appropriate to copy the entire (short) thing here. Please read all of it.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.