Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

On this day in 1868, a crowd of 5,000 gathers at Arlington National Cemetery for the first Decoration Day. This day is now known as Memorial Day.

It was a few weeks earlier, on May 5, that General John A. Logan, leader of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Union Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance.
General Logan stated: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

Then, at Arlington, James A Garfield, who would become the 20th president, addressed the crowd:
“The faith of our people in the stability and permanence of their institutions was like their faith in the eternal course of nature. Peace, liberty, and personal security were blessings as common and universal as sunshine and showers and fruitful seasons; and all sprang from a single source, the old American principle that all owe due submission and obedience to the lawfully expressed will of the majority. This is not one of the doctrines of our political system—it is the system itself. It is our political firmament, in which all other truths are set, as stars in Heaven. It is the encasing air, the breath of the Nation’s life.”

Later, he added: “The voices of these dead will forever fill the land like holy benedictions.”… [H]ere let them rest, asleep on the Nation’s heart, entombed in the Nation’s love!

“We honor… we pray…”

More recently, in his Presidential Proclamation Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 1966, President Lyndon B Johnson said:
“On this Memorial Day, as we honor the memory of brave men who have borne our colors in war, we pray to God for His mercy. We pray for the wisdom to find a way to end this struggle of nation against nation, of brother against brother. We pray that soon we may begin to build the only true memorial to man’s valor in war — a sane and hopeful environment for the generations to come.”

He then went on to “urge all of the people of this Nation to join me in prayer to the Almighty for the safety of our Nation’s sons and daughters…, for His blessing on those who have sacrificed their lives for this Nation in this and all other struggles, and for His aid in building a world where freedom and justice prevail, and where all men live in friendship, understanding, and peace.

Indeed, may we pray similarly for all present and future struggles. Finally, may you  have a blessed and reflective Memorial Day.

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

USS Constitution aka Old Ironsides

On this day in 1797, the USS Constitution, aka “Old Ironsides,” is launched from a Boston shipyard.

First, of course, it was President George Washington who signed the Naval Act of 1794 which authorized construction of the ship. Obviously, he named it after our sacred founding document. Paul Revere provided its copper.

Naturally, President John Adams was on hand for the aforementioned launch ceremony in Boston.

The old frigate earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 for its amazing ability to avoid damage despite having defeated five British warships.

Then, its final engagement was the capture of a slave ship in 1853.

Providential Protection

In an interesting, perhaps providential parallel, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, while the U.S. constitution is the oldest single governing document in the world.

Certainly, George Washington and John Adams acknowledged the role divine providence plays in our nation:

At his Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789 George Washington said:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”

We made a shirt from that quote, get yours in the Shop.

Also, at his inaugural address in Philadelphia in March the year the USS Constitution was launched, John Adams said:
“And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence.”

Clearly, Divine protection will be necessary to keep both Constitutions afloat.

Finally, here is the final stanza of the aptly-titled poem “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. from 1830, which helped the ship stay commissioned:

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

USS Constitution

Zachary Taylor

On this day in 1850, President Zachary Taylor dies after four days of suffering from what his personal physicians concluded was cholera morbus. He was president for just 16 months.

He received an Army commission in 1808, became captain in 1810, major during the War of 1812. Later, he was a colonel in the Black Hawk War, earning the nickname “Old Rough and Ready.”
Eventually, he became a national hero during the Mexican-American War in 1846.

Taylor supported the Wilmot Proviso that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of…” the territory ceded by Mexico. 

His predecessor James K. Polk’s presidency ended on Sunday, March 4th, 1849. However, Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath, instead taking the oath of office on Monday, March 5th.

“Let us invoke… let us seek”

Zachary Taylor concluded his inaugural address with these still pertinent remarks:

“I congratulate you, my fellow-citizens, upon the high state of prosperity to which the goodness of Divine Providence has conducted our common country. Let us invoke a continuance of the same protecting care which has led us from small beginnings to the eminence we this day occupy, and let us seek to deserve that continuance by prudence and moderation in our councils, by well-directed attempts to assuage the bitterness which too often marks unavoidable differences of opinion, by the promulgation and practice of just and liberal principles, and by an enlarged patriotism, which shall acknowledge no limits but those of our own widespread Republic.”

Zachary Taylor White House portrait

 

F. Scott Key Star Spangled Motto Our Cause it is Just War of 1812

On this day in 1920, This Side of Paradise by famous St. Paul, Minnesota native F. Scott Fitzgerald, is published. It was the first novel by the author of the more well-known title The Great Gatsby.

In fact, Fitzgerald was named after his second cousin, three times removed on his father’s side. That F. Scott is also famous for something he wrote.

That side of paradise…

Of course, that first F. Scott was none other than Francis Scott Key, who penned The Star-Spangled Banner, of which the first verse is our national anthem.

Fitzgerald’s final resting place is in Maryland, about thirty miles from Key, and about forty miles from Fort McHenry, where Key saw our flag “by the dawn’s early light.”

Finally, see our Men’s and Women’s Star-Spangled Motto “In God is Our Trust” shirts, inspired by the first F. Scott, are here in Our Shop.

FS Key Star Spangled Motto Our Cause it is Just War of 1812