As the country is roiled by fifth column, domestic enemies far more dangerous and stealth than foreign actors, let’s look to the heroes of our past and present to show us the way forward. We must remember the real reason for this annual holiday.
The Federalist: Memorial Day became common as “Decoration Day” during and then after the Civil War for Americans to set aside certain days to remember soldiers who died on duty, usually by “decorating” their graves and holding picnics, parades, and other events.
So many died during and after the Civil War that their memories remained fresh for many years in the minds of their friends and families, who used such ceremonies to process their grief and honor the dead and the cause for which they served. Eventually these varied ceremonies among North and South coalesced into one day that ultimately became a federal holiday.
Soon before his re-election and the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln faced dark days of worry about both. He asked some Ohio soldiers to stop at the White House while on their way home from the battlefield, and in brief remarks to them expressed the unifying reason he and they fought for the country they loved: its “dedication to the proposition” that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
“Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment,” President Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C. August 22, 1864.
I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest.
It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours.
I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations.
It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright — not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.
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Emily Domenech spent Memorial Day last year in Arlington National Cemetery fielding an influx of requests from people around the country, hustling around the grounds to send back pictures of their loved ones’ graves. The response was overwhelming. ESPN, “The View,” Fox News, and other outlets covered Domenech’s impromptu effort.
Eager to do even more this year, Domenech joined forces with the Travis Manion Foundation to create #TheHonorProject. “We are mobilizing volunteers to visit our national heroes interred at Arlington National Cemetery this Memorial Day weekend on behalf of their families and friends,” the Foundation writes on its website. “The Honor Project ensures our nation’s fallen heroes are not forgotten while engaging our patriotic network of Spartans.”
The site adds, “We’re challenging you to join our effort to remember the fallen who made the ultimate sacrifice. Request a visit to your loved one interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Volunteers will learn their name, visit their gravesite during Memorial Day weekend, and place a commemorative Flags of Valor flag to honor their service and sacrifice.”
You can also purchase a flag, created by combat veteran craftsmen, that project volunteers will place at the headstone of a fallen hero to commemorate the holiday. T-shirts that support the project are available for purchase on the Travis Manion Foundation’s website as well.
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