Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Gave All

We had our Memorial Day tribute at church yesterday.  Kat and Brian came from Montgomery to attend church with us and cookout afterwards.  I sang, "God Bless the U.S.A."...and am not bragging....but I think it is one of the best songs I do.  It has a special significance to me see, Frank proposed to me after I sang it on July 4th, 2002.  Sorry, I digressed a bit there....let me tell you a little bit about the day that you may or may not already know.  I have to admit that I did NOT know all these facts.  "Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). "Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee. In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it."   I think what saddens me about this holiday is that the traditional observance of Memorial day seems to have dimmed greatly over the years. Many Americans, especially the young ones, either don't know or have forgotten the "real" meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. I was pleasantly surprised when on the news over the weekend I saw a military cemetary in the Atlanta area being adorned with miniature flags by the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts.  It was such a tender vision....watching them quietly place each flag just so....and salute it.  But that was one....At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. They are wrong!  This is a very special day for the ones who gave all...I have sung in Andersonville, GA and been very moved by the small flags flying in the Confederate cemetary there.  I have walked through Arlington many times and cried from my first step.  Walked by the Vietnam and Korean monuments and felt the souls of the fallen and missing crying out to me. I wear a POW/MIA bracelet for CDR. William Arnold who has been missing since November of 1966.  I put this bracelet on in 1968.  He was a young navy pilot who did his duty and it cost him his life in Vietnam.  I have a long history of family who have served....My great-great grandfather fought in the War of 1812, my great grandfather was at the Battle Above the Clouds at Lookout Mtn. during the Civil War, My grandfather fought in WWI, my dad and his brothers were in WWII, my uncles and cousins were in Korea, my husband and a number of my cousins were in Vietnam, and I have a son-in-law, cousins and former students who have all fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, whereever they were needed.  Some gave all.....My first student funeral was during Desert Storm.  I hate the sound of TAPS to this day.  He was just a kid.  So when you all sit down today for your family BBQ remember what today is about, say a prayer for those who gave all....and for their families, remember who this day honors, and be greatful for the freedoms we have today because....Some gave all.


Debby@Just Breathe said...

What a beautiful post you have written. I love all the history and I will make sure that all generations in my family will know about this day. I always remember the poppies being sold on the corners back in Illinois. God Bless America and those who have given their lives for our freedom.

Sweet Tea said...

I am thinking of my dad and my FIL who both served in WWII, and I'm also remembering two young guys I went to highschool with, Gary Dasher and Robert Tuelle. Both went straight from highschool to the horror of Viet Nam, never to come home again. My heart still aches for them after all these years.

Mary said...

I remember those bracelets, but my mom thought I was too young to have one. It's amazing that you're still wearing yours and honoring him.
My heart aches for those families who have lost love ones.

Queenie Jeannie said...

Beautiful job, Karen! Hugs!!!

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