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Memorial Day


Today we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Memorial Day, known originally as Decoration Day, was first officially observed on May 5, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, where flowers were lovingly laid on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, stated that we should let "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."

On this date in 1903, D. J. O'Connell, a lawyer from Towner, spoke at the McHenry County Memorial Day service. He spoke of praise to the GAR for continuing to keep Memorial Day alive in the hearts of man and he spoke of a poet's wish "that some bird from the sunny South, might build its nest in the cannon's mouth and stop its terrible roar." He went on to say, "On the pages of earth's most resplendent history are its records, scenes and struggles sketched. The meadows are green where heroes fought. Gray old earth, scourged of battle fierce, has covered up her scars and rivers once with carnage red, now murmuring of peace returned, run rippling to the sea.

[podcast]/media/dakotadatebook/2009/may/25.mp3[/podcast] Today, ... the nation lays aside its garb of work and care, to speak again the words of love and veneration for the heroes gone, and to say again the words of love and cheer for the veterans who survive. ...The graves which we shall this day garland are the shrines of American valor and American patriotism."

While Memorial Day was originally set as day of remembrance of those who died in the Civil War, after the end of World War I, it became a day to honor those from all wars who paid with their lives. In the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and other places around the world, North Dakota's sons and daughters have continued to bravely serve on hundreds of battlefields since that Memorial Day back in 1903. Even today we pray that men and women now serving in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan will return safely home.

We as Americans can not forget the cost of a free republic and we can only pray that the mighty sword now uplifted may some day forever rest in its idle sheath. We can only hope that the need for war will some day lie buried beside those who made the ultimate sacrifice and that through their efforts, future generations will live to see enduring peace.

By Jim Davis


Towner News and Stockman June 5, 1903.

Memorial Day History: http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html