If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from his honor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan. -- General Orders No. 11, Washington D.C., 5 May, 1868, Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic. General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief
It requires so little time, such paltry effort, to remember, reflect, to pause and give thanks for all we have ... provided by God and paid for with the blood of patriots.
Just a solemn walk among the marble markers, pledging allegiance to our county because you feel it, not because you're asked to do so; perhaps a few minutes spent taking in the real meaning of the national colors.... white for purity and innocence, red for valor and bravery, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
Many versions of our glorious banner have have long flown around the world, a beacon to those oppressed.. threatened and deprived of liberty and freedom; there is only one flag such despairing throngs hope, pray to see advancing toward them.
It is ours.
Memorial Day is the only day--once a year--on which we are obligated to forget all else and give thanks to those who have made our bounteous lives possible.
But... most of us do not.
Whenever and wherever I gaze over the identical white tablets engraved with the sparse biography of the fallen, I am deeply saddened, humbled, inextinguishably proud, but most of all, grateful.
A great number of the stones stand in mute testimony to a story ended far too soon...
July 3, 1863
Dec. 7, 1941
Aug. 14, 1967
Sept. 11, 2004
My mind always turns to the family, friends and the children that such somber dates represent. In the end... Old Glory which beckons the world to our shores, which flies over our schools, official buildings and shields us all our lives will in the end cover the caskets of our honored dead.
And finally, it is solemnly, with great dignity and in keeping with their sacrifice, gently folded and presented to loved ones:
"... on behalf of... a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to.... our Country."
And forevermore the veteran, one of the very few who has fully earned the gift of citizenship, is laid to his rest and thus woven into the historical fabric of the greatest Country the world has ever known.
The honored dead's last battle ended, great pain and deep sadness continues to ripple through the years until all those who knew him are gone.
Yet he forever remains, his great service to our society visible for all the Future to see... if they only will.