Monthly Archives: May 2010

The First Memorial Day

Charleston was in ruins.

The peninsula was nearly deserted, the fine houses empty, the streets littered with the debris of fighting and the ash of fires that had burned out weeks before. The Southern gentility was long gone, their cause lost.

In the weeks after the Civil War ended, it was, some said, “a city of the dead.”

On a Monday morning that spring, nearly 10,000 former slaves marched onto the grounds of the old Washington Race Course, where wealthy Charleston planters and socialites had gathered in old times. During the final year of the war, the track had been turned into a prison camp. Hundreds of Union soldiers died there.

For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations

Local Paper Editorial– Memorial Day, then and now

In America, a special day was set aside to honor those who fell in the great fraternal conflict that was the Civil War (or, if you prefer, the War Between the States). The first observances were likely held in the South, though this is far from settled. On May 5, 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Army veterans, declared May 30 to be ‘Decoration Day,’ and that year the first large-scale observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery. Not until after World War I were official observances expanded to honor the dead in all our country’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and so that everyone might enjoy a long weekend, changed its traditional May 30th date to the last Monday in May.

Our honored dead. But what about our equally honored wounded? (And such are the advances in modern medicine and the rapidity with which the maimed and wounded are now evacuated from the battlefield to behind-the-lines treatment facilities that many more who would have died now survive.) What about those who have lost eyes and arms and legs, those who are doomed to live out their lives in unutterable sorrow and, disgraceful as it most certainly is, all too often forgotten by the country they served?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Music For Memorial Day (III): If You're Reading This Tim McGraw

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Parish Ministry

Music for Memorial Day (II): Travelin' Soldier from the Dixie Chicks

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Parish Ministry

Music for Memorial Day (I): Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miserables

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Parish Ministry

Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away

Take the time to look at at least a few of these.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

O CAPTAIN! my Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up””for you the flag is flung””for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths””for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

–Walt Whitman (1819”“1892)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Patterns

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

–Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's D-Day Prayer June 6, 1944

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

We Here Highly Resolve

“”¦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”¦”

–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

The History of Memorial Day

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. 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.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Facts About the National Cemetery Administration

”¢NCA currently maintains more than 2.9 million gravesites at 130 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico, as well as in 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites.

Ӣ Approximately 295,600 full-casket gravesites, 90,200 in-ground gravesites for cremated remains, and 75,200 columbarium niches are available in already developed acreage in our 128 national cemeteries.

”¢ There are close to 19,000 acres within established installations in NCA. Nearly half are undeveloped and””with available gravesites in developed acreage””have the potential to provide approximately 4.7 million gravesites.

Ӣ Of the 130 national cemeteries, 70 are open to all interments; 20 can accommodate cremated remains and the remains of family members for interment in the same gravesite as a previously deceased family member; and 40 will perform only interments of family members in the same gravesite as a previously deceased family member.

Read the rest also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, The U.S. Government

Military Funeral Honors

The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. “Honoring Those Who Served” is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to veterans who have defended our nation.

Upon the family’s request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

In Flanders Fields

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.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), who served in the Canadian Army

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature

One Picture for Memorial Day

Monica McNeal (R) cries as she hugs a U.S. Marine at the grave (L) of her 19-year-old son Eric Ward, at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2010. Lance Corporal Eric Ward, a fourth-generation U.S. Marine, was killed in Afghanistan on February 21, 2010. The United State is commemorating Memorial Day this weekend.

Check it out from Reuters.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry