Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: A Salute to Troops

Today we reflect on the meanings of Memorial Day.  Not much RP advice, more life advice.

I am the grandson of a veteran.  Many of my family members have taken up the call to arms, and during the time we have been able to call ourselves Americans I have had family members in most of our conflicts.  As a historian and as one who has witnessed the sacrifices of war first and second-hand, I feel a bit of reflection is in order.

Today I decided to quote a passage I find particularly compelling from an address made by Senator Joseph B. Foraker (R - Ohio, 1897-1909), on Memorial Day May 30th 1905.  Though over a century has passed and the full address covers ruminations on the Spanish-American and Civil War, the below passage has always made me think of all men who have served.  I hope to hear from you your personal reflections on service if you wish to include them.  No sign-off... I will let the words speak for themselves.


The men of other wars showed bravery, heroism and capacity for great deeds, and all added glory to our flag, honor to our name and renown to our arms, but no men since our independence was established have done so much for the American people as the men of the Union Army. They were mere boys, most of them yet in their teens, and all of the more than two millions who were enlisted, except less than 50,000, were under twenty-five years of age. But, measured by their work and its far-reaching consequences, they belong among the truly great men of history.

Through good report and bad, victory and defeat, summer and winter, sunshine and storm, they unflinchingly and uncomplainingly met every requirement of the great task that fell upon them. No hardship was too severe for them to undergo, no loss was too heavy for them to bear, no sacrifice to comfort, or blood, or life was too great for them to make. They laid all unsparingly upon their country's altar, and behold the result--this mighty Nation, so full of honour and so full of promise. Only the shortcomings of ourselves, or of those who are to come after us can bring their work to naught. Our presence here to-day is our pledge that it shall not fail through fault of ours, for we have come, not only to strew flowers on their graves, recount their deeds, extol their virtues, and pay tribute to their memory, but also that we may study the lessons they taught, and by these sacred and beautiful ceremonies consecrate ourselves anew to the great duty of perpetuating what they preserved. May God give us wisdom and courage to do our duty as well as they did theirs. If so, the Union they saved and the institutions they perfected will endure for long ages to come, and with passing years bear ever-increasing blessings to humanity.