May 29, 2022
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of their country. It’s difficult to prove the origins of this day as over two dozen towns and cities lay claim to be the birthplace.
Regardless of the location of origins or the exact date, one thing is crystal clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. On the 5th of May in 1868, General John Logan who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed it in his General Order No. 11.
Part of the history of Memorial Day will show that in the Order, the General proclaimed, “The 30th 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.” Because the day wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle, the General called it, The date of Decoration Day.
On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery while General James Garfield made a historic speech.
Memorial Day history couldn’t be complete without the birth of the “National Moment of Remembrance”, which was a resolution passed in December 2000 which asks that at 3:00 p.m. local time, for all Americans “to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
Take the time on Monday to give thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice; and to remember that because of their sacrifice we are yet a land of hope and promise, a land that strives to be worthy of the ode by Emma Lazarus:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Father Steve Adrian