In the first week of this month, seven US soldiers were killed in combat, and another four were killed the next week. They join a huge list of soldiers who have laid down their lives for our country since its birth.
Memorial Day is intended to honor our sacred dead. Instead, for most people not personally touched by the sacrifices of our brave military, it is an empty excuse for a 3 day weekend, sales, and to break out white outfits. Over the past week I had a least a dozen people personally tell me “Happy Memorial Day.” That butchers the point.
On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand
Army of the Republic, promulgated General Order No. 11, which was the
first official promulgation of Memorial Day. General Order No. 11 provided
that flowers would be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate
soldiers on May 30, 1868. (Order No. 11 is below.) In the Order, General
Logan reflected he hoped it would become an annual tradition, and it did.
With World War I, that tradition expanded to include all war dead; eventually it became a recognized holiday. All too soon, it became commercialized.
General Logan's Order stated, "Let no 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." Indeed.
That Memorial Day will ever entirely recover its nature is a hopeless cause - the commercialization and habits of generations have undermined it too much. That is why my daughter Leah and I created Patriot Week - with hope of establishing a new civic calendar to renew the spirit of America.
Still, it is worth the effort to embrace the spirit of Memorial Day. Its fine to do the barbecue and wear white, so long as your heart is in the right place, and you impress upon your family that we are free only because of the sacrifices of generations of Americans.
God bless you, the sacred dead, and America.
Very truly yours,
Hon. Michael Warren