Today is Memorial Day across the United States, a holiday welcomed for a host of different reasons. Likely the most common is that it marks the unofficial start to the summer season. A close second might be the much-anticipated Indianapolis 500, always run on this weekend. Others, adhering to slightly antiquated customs of dress, break out their white shoes on the final Monday of May. Still others, importing a white-shoe-esque rule to a totally different arena, look forward to Memorial Day as the appropriate day on which to resume drinking gin and tonics. (No, but seriously, I’m not the only person who follows that rule…am I?)
Of course, Memorial Day was established for none of these reasons. It was originally a day set to recall those who had died in fighting the Civil War. Today the holiday has evolved to become a kind of All Soul’s Day, so to speak, for those felled in the service of this nation. It was first known as “Decoration Day,” in recognition of the flags and other decorations that would be left at the grave sites those killed in war. It was first proclaimed not by any president but by General John Logan, who wrote:
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
In this spirit, we here at TJP hope you will join us in a moment of prayer for the many that we honor on this day.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.