We pause once again from our usual political analysis and commentary to recognize what should be one of our nation’s most cherished holidays.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It’s origins date back to the Civil War as a day to commemorate fallen Union soldiers, yet Southerners also decorated Confederate graves of those lost in the great war.
I am reminded this Memorial Day of the letter President Abraham Lincoln wrote to a grieving Mrs. Bixby who had paid an enormous price to defend the Union. In recognizing her loss, Lincoln writes:
Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts:
Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
Lincoln was correct. No words could ever describe the way this mother must have felt. She gave all for the sake of her country and few would ever truly know the enormity of her pain.
Today, Memorial Day honors all Americans who have died in conflict protecting our country’s freedoms, yet it’s relevance and significance is all to often lost as the kickoff for summer.
President Ronald Reagan put Memorial Day in prospective in his 1984 remarks, saying:
“Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live…
“…When he spoke at a ceremony at Gettysburg in 1863, President Lincoln reminded us that through their deeds, the dead had spoken more eloquently for themselves than any of the living ever could, and that we living could only honor them by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they so willingly gave a last full measure of devotion.”
So before you fire up that grill or dive in the pool this weekend, pause and remember those who have gone before, who have paved the way for us all to be free here in America.
Think of the pregnant wife who will never see her love again and the son who will never know his father.
Think of the father who will never get to walk his daughter down the aisle or see his son win the big game.
Think of the husband with three little girls who will have to learn how to french braid because momma isn’t coming home.
Think of the mother who falls to her knees as she opens the door to find two soldiers bearing the most horrible news she will ever hear.
These are the true symbols of Memorial Day and the ones we must place at the forefront of our minds this weekend.
May this Memorial Day be a time for every American to express appreciation to those men and women and their families who sacrificed their lives and loves for us all. May we live each day to the fullest as we now seek to ensure the freedom and liberty they have afforded us will be passed on to our posterity and may we never tire in honoring their legacy.
Happy Memorial Day from Yall Politics.