As we head into the Memorial Day Weekend, let’s remember what this American holiday is really about. Remembering those who serve or have fallen in defense of and to preserve the freedom of the United States of America. Here’s a brief history about the origins of Memorial Day from the American Minute with Bill Federer:
Southern women scattered spring flowers on the graves of both the Northern and Southern soldiers who died during the Civil War.
This was the origin of Memorial Day, which in 1868 was set on MAY 30.
In 1968, it was moved to the last Monday in May.
From the Spanish-American War, to World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, War against Islamic Terror, up through the present, all who gave their lives to preserve America’s freedom are honored on Memorial Day.
Beginning in 1921, every President placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The number 21 being the highest salute, the sentry takes 21 steps, faces the tomb for 21 seconds, turns and pauses 21 seconds, then retraces his steps.
Inscribed on the Tomb is the phrase: “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.”
In his 1923 Memorial Address, President Calvin Coolidge stated:
“There can be no peace with the forces of evil. Peace comes only through the establishment of the supremacy of the forces of good.
That way lies through sacrifice…
‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'”
In celebration of Memorial Day, here are some great quotes from famous people in American history honoring the men and women of our armed services, who have sacrificed their lives to protect our Country throughout America’s history.
“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 church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. If other eyes grow dull, 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 to us. Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; 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 a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan “ -General John A. Logan’s Memorial Day Order, Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic, General Orders No.11, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868
“It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars afar away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives, the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember “ -Ronald Reagan
“Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom. Our wars have taken from us the men and women we honor today, and every hour of the lifetimes they had hoped to live “ – President George W. Bush, Memorial Day 2002.
“Siding with tyrants in the name of peace is a recipe for disaster. Empowering of murderers for the sake of human rights is a guarantee of further bloodshed. And the inability to distinguish right from wrong is a prelude to our own destruction “ -Lowell Phillips
“The real world requires difficult moral choices. But try as we might, we cannot avoid making them. We should choose to side with those who support our values, however imperfectly, and against those who violently oppose our values. The real world is a dangerous place filled with dangerous people. Severe myopia can be a fatal handicap. Mr. Magoo makes an amusing cartoon character but a poor role model and a lousy statesman. We have eyes with which to see the evildoers in the world. We have ears to hear the cries of those who suffer under tyranny. It is our duty to use them. Otherwise, we are foolish people, and without understanding “ -David C. Stolinsky
“Today is a celebration of those who didn’t come home with the rest of us. We remember that their lives were cut short, their life’s chapters closed in the paddies, jungles and mountains of Vietnam. Perhaps the greatest honor the rest of us can bestow is to regard our own lives as sacred and full of meaning. It is difficult to stay above the quagmire of feelings left from our experiences but what better way to salute our brothers and sisters in arms than to rise above the pain of their deaths and give freely of ourselves to others.” -Marine veteran Robert Sasse
“But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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. “ – Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1863.
In 1923, Vice-President Calvin Coolidge delivered a Memorial Day address entitled “The Destiny of America”:
Just at a time when Christianity was at last finally established…when there was a great spiritual awakening, America began to be revealed… Settlers came here from mixed motives…but those who have set their imperishable mark upon our institutions…were seeking a broader freedom…intent upon establishing a Christian commonwealth in accordance with the principle of self-government… They were an inspired body of men…”God sifted the nations that He might send choice grain into the wilderness.” They had a genius for organized society on foundations of piety, righteousness, liberty, and obedience to law… America’s government and civilization…have grown up around the church, the town meeting, and the schoolhouse. It is not perfect, but it surpasses the accomplishments of any other people… America is worth fighting for. But if our republic is to be maintained…it will be through the efforts and character of [individuals]… the ideals [of] home life which make up the strength of the nation. The homely virtues must continue to be cultivated. The real dignity, the real nobility of work must be cherished… The viciousness of waste and the value of thrift must…be learned and understood… To these there must be added religion, education, and obedience to law. These are the foundation of all character… and all hope in the nation… There is no end of the things which the government could do, seemingly, in the way of public welfare, if it had the money. [But] everything we want cannot be had at once. It must be earned by toilsome labor. There is a very decided limit to the amount which can be raised by taxation without ruinously affecting the people…by virtual confiscation… A government which requires of the people the contribution of the bulk of their substance and rewards cannot be classed as a free government, or long remain as such (The Annals of America, 1968, Vol. XIV, pp. 410-414; see also TeachingAmericaHistory.org).
We must pray, labor and fight for our freedom, ever grateful to God for it, and to the men and women who gave their all to keep us free (Neh 4:14).