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

9/11

On this day, September 12, the Battle of Baltimore begins.

The defense of Fort McHenry during heavy bombardment by the Royal Navy actually began the following day and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the poem, aptly titled, “Defence of Fort McHenry.” Of course, the poem became the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner” our national anthem.

Rebuild on a solid foundation

So, today is September 12, or 9/12. As a nation, we’ve reflected on 9/11 for 18 years, and today we are faced with significant, on-going domestic and foreign threats and challenges to our republic.

Here are a few excerpts from Billy Graham’s remarks given at the National Cathedral on September 14, 2001:

[T]oday we come together in this service to confess our need of God. We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation. But today we need Him especially. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but, second, it’s a lesson about our need for each other.

A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart, but instead it has united us. 

This week we watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of prosperity and creativity. When damaged, those buildings plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet, underneath the debris, is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked, buildings destroyed, lives lost. But now we have a choice: whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation; or to choose to become stronger through all of this struggle, to rebuild on a solid foundation.

And I believe that we are starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. And in that faith, we have the strength to endure something as difficult and as horrendous as what we have experienced this week.

May God bless you all.”

9/11

 

Star-Spangled Banner

In these United States, September 11 is proclaimed Patriot Day, and is observed as the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

The bill to designate September 11 of each year as Patriot Day was introduced on October 25, 2001 with 22 co-sponsors: eleven Democrats and eleven Republicans.

Here are portions of today’s Presidential Proclamation — Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 2019:

“On Patriot Day, we solemnly remember the nearly 3,000 people who perished on September 11, 2001.  With gratitude, we honor the brave first responders, resolute members of our military, and ordinary Americans who showed extraordinary courage to save others on that fateful day.  We will always be grateful for the heroic men and women of our Armed Forces who fought in defense of our country in the aftermath of the largest terrorist attack on American soil, and we will never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our liberty and freedom.

Our prayers will continue for the survivors who still bear physical and emotional wounds and for the families who lost loved ones.  We also pray for the members of our Armed Forces who risk their lives in service to our country and for the first responders who work tirelessly to ensure the safety of others.  Today, let us remember that our Union — forged and strengthened through adversity — will never be broken and that the immeasurable sacrifices of our patriots will never be forgotten.”

For posterity, let US all stand United as Patriots, on this, and every day, as have the American Patriots of previous generations. Now, as always:

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

Star-Spangled Banner