“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude; America will never forget their sacrifices.”
- President Harry S. Truman
(Remarks after D-Day, June 6, 1944)
Tomorrow is one of the most important dates on the Calendar for citizens of the United States. Historically, Memorial Day was recognized on May 30th every year; it is now observed on the final Monday in May. In today’s consumer society, this day is the unofficial start of the Summer vacation season. I am not complaining about this, but I do think it is important for everyone to take a moment to remember the lives that have been lost to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.
Say a silent prayer. Take 5 minutes to think about the sacrifices that others have made that have helped create the country we have today. Be grateful.
I am not going to include many of my own words on this solemn day. In this post I am going to include several powerful images and words that will provide anyone who takes the time to read with the inspiration to recognize why we celebrate this holiday.
First, how about some statistics?? The following statistics I took from the Historical Library of the Navy.
American casualties by war:
- Revolutionary War: 4,435
- War of 1812: 2,260
- Mexican-American War: 13,283
- Civil War: Union – 364,511; Confederacy – 258,000 (TOTAL: 620,000+)
- World War I: 116,516
- World War II: 405,399
- Korean War: 36,574
- Vietnam War: 58,209
- Persian Gulf War: 382
- Afghanistan: ~6,500
TOTAL: Over 1,250,000
“Bivouac of the Dead”
The muffled drums sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last Tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame’s eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
But glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved one’s left behind;
No vision of tomorrow,s strife
The warrior’s dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife,
At dawn shall call to arms.
Their shivered swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow;
And the proud forms, by battle gashed,
Are free from anguish now.
The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle’s stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shouts are past;
Nor war’s wild note, nor glory’s peal,
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that never more may feel
The rapture of the fight.
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood you gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The heritage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her record keeps,
Or honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel’s voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell
When many a vanquished age hath flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter’s blight,
Nor time’s remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory’s light
That gilds your deathless tomb.
- Theodore O’Hara
My Senior year in High School, our class took a “Senior Trip” to Europe. We began the trip with some missionary work in Easter Europe (Slovakia), then proceeded to travel through Germany, Italy, and France via Train. Towards the end of the trip, I had one of the most solemn experiences of my life when we visited the beaches of Normandy, the site of the Allied Invasion on D-Day – June 6, 1944.
While in Normandy, we also visited the American Cemetery in France. I encourage EVERY AMERICAN who travels overseas to take time out of their schedule to visit an American Cemetery for Military forces in a foreign country. Visiting Arlington, Richmond, Gettysburg, etc. – these are all special and awe-inspiring in their own respect; but once you see the sheer numbers of servicemen who never returned home…this will soften even the hardest of hearts. The following images are from the American Cemetery in Normandy:
The above engraving is found on the grounds of the cemetery. These are the words I began this post with. The quote states:
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude; America will never forget their sacrifices.“
- President Harry S. Truman, United States of America
Information about the ABOVE statue:
Les Braves – French sculptor Anilore Banon’s tribute to soldiers involved in the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings at Normandy beaches. A plaque near Omaha Beach describes Banon’s philosophy in the three elements of her sculpture:
Wings of Hope – So that the spirit which carried these men on June 6, 1944 continues to inspire us, reminding us that together it is always possible to change the future.
Rise Freedom! – So that the example of those who rose against barbarity helps us remain standing strong against all forms of inhumanity.
The Wings of Fraternity – So that this surge of brotherhood always reminds us of our responsibility towards others, as well as ourselves.
The Greatest Memorial Speech in American history:
The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not 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 – November 19, 1863
United States Armed Forces
Oath of Enlistment:
“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Memorial Day Essay by a 3rd Grader:
“As the flowers rest on the decorated graves and the sunlight shines on the beautiful sailboats, Uncle Sam whispers in my ear about how we should care for the soldiers and remember the ones that have died. Swimming pools open, BBQs fry. Today is the day to think of what they have done for us. There are blurs of red, white and blue marching down the street and flags are lowered at half-mast. But we should always remember and never forget what set us free, from this very day on.”
- Ali M., Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut, 2001
*The following was an email sent to the website USAMEMORIALDAY.ORG, which they proceeded to publish. It was one woman’s statement about how she planned on observing Memorial Day:
“This weekend I am going to do something different. I am going to buy some carnations each day and go to one of the nearby cemetaries and walk through the sections for soldiers. When I find a grave that has no flowers, I’ll leave one and say a prayer for the family of that person, who for some reason could not bring their soldier flowers. I will pray for our country and all who serve or have served. For their families, who also serve by losing precious days, weeks and months spent with their loved ones who are off serving, preserving peace and the freedom we have in this country. I’ll pray for the families who paid the ultimate price, who’s loved ones died, or were taken captive and never returned. I’ll pray for anyone who may still be held in captivity and thinks perhaps they are forgotten. I do NOT forget.
I’ll say a prayer for every person on the Internet who takes a moment from their time to come to sites like yours and be reminded of what this holiday really means. And I’ll say a prayer of thanks and ask God’s richest blessings on you.”
Thank you again…. and God bless!
I hope you took the time to read some of the beautiful words of remembrance that I included in this post. I hope you have a fantastic holiday, and enjoy time with friends and family if that is included in your plans!