Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o’er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking.
-Sir Walter Scott
Begun on the 30th of May 1868, Decoration Day began as a way to honor those who died during the War Between the States. That war killed 623,026 total from both sides of the conflict, the costliest war in this great nations existence. (Source)
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). (Source)
Each generation of Americans has experienced the effects of war and, based on my observations of the human condition, will continue to do so.
When I think of this day each year, I am reminded of the men I’ve known who gave their all. I also then feel the weight of all the sorrow that those men’s deaths caused for so many in their families and friends.
We must never forget the sacrifices of our fallen.
The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children.