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Memorial Day – What It Truly Means

May 28, 2021

Free Man Standing On Stage Facing An American Flag Stock Photo

I hope everyone has fun plans scheduled for this weekend.  It is always an enjoyable time to get together with family and friends. The weather is usually pleasant (maybe not this year), barbecuing commences, pools open and summer unofficially begins even in our post-COVID environment.  However, there is a much deeper meaning to this day, especially in a country with troops engaged in many different dangerous situations (some we will never know about).  I’ve researched and located the first Memorial Day Proclamation:

Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic
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 churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or 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 by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a 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 found 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 free and undivided republic. If other eyes grow dull and 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 in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; 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 as sacred charges upon the 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 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 call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective. By command of:



I am attaching a link to a more detailed accounting of our military casualties and wounded (worth the read and is quite a history lesson in and of itself) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war , however, the sum total of our military casualties, wounded and missing since the Revolutionary War is as follows (and growing every day):

Combat Deaths = 666,441+

Other Fatalities = 673,929+

Total Fatalities = 1,354,664+

Total Wounded = 1,498,250+

Total U.S. Casualties = 2,852,901+

Total Missing = 40,031

These numbers are the stark reality of the ultimate sacrifice that many of our fellow citizens have made on our behalf.  It is quite sobering to think of the devastation this caused in so many families.

As you raise your glass this weekend, please take a moment to reflect on what Monday truly means.  There are currently thousands of troops stationed directly in harm’s way doing very dangerous often thankless work.  We owe them and their predecessors a vast debt of gratitude.