|Union and Confederate Soldier- Cousins, Friends or Brothers?|
Memorial Day is a day of vacation, fun, parks, friends, and meat on the grill. It is all of these things as well as much more. Memorial Day also includes the remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us may enjoy these sunny days. As you are spending your day in carefree joy, try and keep in the back of your head the essential purpose of Memorial Day. Perhaps you want to drop a few flowers at a war veterans site and spend a moment remembering them.
The history of the Memorial Day is an interesting one. It was proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan. He issued the ceremony (http://www.usmemorialday.org/order11.html) by laying flowers at the graves of both Confederate and Union graves. To him it was important to honor the dead of the country and the ultimate sacrifice they made to their nation. It was the continuous search for national truth that compelled these solders to lay down their hearts, leave their families, and sacrifice their bodies so that others could live free.
Following suit congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 solidifying the concept of a national day of mourning. The Grand Army of the Republic, a union veterans group, supported the event because the flowers would be in full bloom. It would seem that such flowers represent the generation of new life and new beginnings. The day is expected to focus closely only on those who died trying to give that new cycle.
Some of the first national ceremonies were held in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Arlington’s mansion with Ulysses S. Grant presiding over the affair. The history dates back to 1866 when Confederate women decorated the graves of their soldiers who died at Shiloh. Seeing the bare Union graves they began to decorate them as well (http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp).
The Civil War was one of the most difficult and causality driven wars of history with nearly a half-million deaths. When considering all of the American deaths through all of the wars reaching approximately 1.2 million the Civil War was almost half. American upon American each fighting over their particular vantage points of life, perception of freedom, commerce and country. Without serious sacrifice the country we know today would cease to exist as the sole nation from coast to coast. Opportunities of the present were built on the past.
As you set upon your day consider the many struggles the nation faced in the past and the many more it will face in the years to come. In some ways today’s threats are battles over international influence, future opportunities, and the very way people make meaning of their lives. America still has a legacy to teach but must overcome its current financial and cultural difficulties to be ready for any challenges the future may bring.
William Herndon, a law partner with Lincoln, stated a number of years after Lincoln's speech, “"Through logic inductively seen, Lincoln as a statesman, and political philosopher, announced an eternal truth -- not only as broad as America, but covers the world.".
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.