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Tag Archives: Memorial Day

Thank You for Your Sacrifices

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On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as our first President of the United States.

He wrote in his journal, “About 10 o’clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York in company with Mr. Thompson, and Colonel Humphries, with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.”

I am fascinated by quotes and wonder why they are both thought and then said. It is obvious that our first President was reluctant to leave his private life again to take up public life. His humbleness in taking over the leadership of America is apparent, as is his knowledge that this was a calling on his life.

President Washington saw his new position as one of service and responsibility.

The British hung Nathan Hale when he was captured as a spy. The twenty-one-year-old Hale challenges us from from 1776 with “My only regret is that I have only one life to give for my country.” He counted his death a privilege.

MacMonnies, Frederick William: Nathan Hale

In the diary entry of one of the British officers made on the day of Hale’s execution, it was said: “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”

“The highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country,” said General George S. Patton, Jr.

As we look at celebrating Memorial Day on Monday, how grateful we are for those who chose to serve our country by fighting for it. From the Revolutionary War forward, men and women have stepped up to the task of defending it. Knowing that their deaths were and are a possibility, they still sign their names on the dotted line.

I’ll never forget the challenge of President John F. Kennedy’s words, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Those who choose to join the armed forces lead the way for us.


Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May in the United States. It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half staff from dawn until noon. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. It is set aside to remember those who fought and died for our country.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.“ said G. K. Chesterton.




A Look at Memorial Day

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The First Memorial Day

This above April, 1865, photo shows the graves of Union soldiers who died at the Race Course prison camp in Charleston, which would later become Hampton Park.

On May 1, 1865, some 10,000 black Charleston residents, white missionaries, teachers, schoolchildren, and Union troops marched around the Planters’ Race Course, singing and carrying armfuls of roses. Gathering in the graveyard, the crowd watched five black preachers recite scripture and a children’s choir sing spirituals and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

On that day, former Charleston slaves started a tradition that would come to be known as Memorial Day.

The Charleston Daily Courier published an article about the event entitled “Martyrs of the Race Course.” It reported that the day-long service began with the reading of a Psalm. The crowd sang a hymn, then prayed. Everyone in the procession carried a bouquet of flowers.

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Rightly named, it was called Decoration Day. These graves were moved to Beaufort National Cemetery in the 1880s and remain there today.

General John A. Logan, a veteran, proclaimed May 30, 1868, Decoration Day, which was “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, whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” After a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, 5,000 Americans adorned the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers entombed at the cemetery.

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For more than 50 years, the holiday was used to commemorate those killed just in the Civil War, not in any other American conflict. It wasn’t until America’s entry into World War I that the tradition was expanded to include those killed in all wars, and Memorial Day was not officially recognized nationwide until the 1970s, with America deeply embroiled in the Vietnam War. It became a national holiday.

Those who have chosen to fight for America have been purposeful in this decision. Before Nathan Hale was executed during the Revolutionary War, he said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

The long-cherished Memorial Day tradition of wearing red poppies got its start in 1915. While reading Ladies’ Home Journal, a war secretary named Moina Michael came across the famous World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, which begins, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row.”

Moved, she vowed always to wear a silk poppy in honor of the American soldiers who gave up their lives for their country. She started selling them to friends and co-workers and campaigned for the red flowers to become an official memorial emblem.

The American Legion embraced the symbol in 1921 and continue to give them away today.

Growing up, I remember my dad always stopping to make a donation to the American Legion and receiving a poppy for my brother and me. Honestly, those paper flowers meant little to me then, as I didn’t know the significance. But I do remember the pride in his voice as he presented us with them.

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Despite the increasing celebration of the holiday as a summer rite of passage, there are some formal rituals still on the books: the American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff. And since 2000, when the U.S. Congress passed legislation, all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. The federal government has also used the holiday to honor non-veterans—the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1922.

General Norman Schwarzkopf gave tribute to our soldiers. “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”


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As General George Patton said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that they lived.”

It is no wonder that when we say, “Thank you for your service” to our veterans that we can see a myriad of memories flood their minds.

They gave their tomorrows for our todays "My Knight In Body Armour" By Jacqueline Hurley Port Out, Starboard Home Original Art

Military doctor, Major John McCrae, was seen writing this poem while sitting on the rear step of an ambulance on the day after burying his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. Among the graves were vivid red poppies spring up in the burial ground.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Let’s not forget that “Each of the patriots whom we remember on this day was first a beloved son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a spouse, friend, and neighbor.” President George H. W. Bush

Memorial Day Ceremony

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On Sunday, May 24, 2015, I attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Pointe Memorial Park in Spartanburg, SC. It was hosted by the American Legion Post 28.

All were there to honor those men and women from Spartanburg County who had given their lives in the service of their country. It was a solemn occasion, marked by speeches and the reading of the names of those from my home town who lost their lives fighting for my freedom. One thing I noted was that the majority served in the army; that is the branch of service that my dad and both his brothers served in.

Among many veterans and spectators were one Gold Star Family that had lost a son and nine Blue Star Mothers who now have children in harm’s way.

The term Gold Star family is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag. These flags/banners were first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces of the United States, during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States were engaged. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to know the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.

There was a POW/MIA Recognition that included presenting the POW/MIA flat. This flag, with its black field and white letters, was raised to the tune of “Amazing Grace” played by bagpipes. A small table was set for a solitary soldier that was not with us. John J. Barron spoke of the five bodies this year that had been accounted for; one was from WW II.

The keynote speaker was Lt. Colonel Arthur T. Ballard, USAF Ret. Here is a link to his speech and some photos from the event.

“Decoration Day”
May 25, 1882

“Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.”

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I set an alarm today, so that we wouldn’t forget to stop and remember those who have given their lives for us and our country. Rather than only at 3:00 on Memorial Day, I believe we need to be grateful every day.