My Musings

In Honor of Memorial Day

In Honor of Memorial Day

All gave some

Some gave all

By Joel Solliday

I began to take Memorial Day seriously in the ‘1990s when I lived in New Haven, Connecticut, where the Grove Street Cemetery featured the graves of many Revolutionary War veterans along with the following great Americans:

One notable gravestone marks the resting place of a lesser known casualty of our War for Independence, which reads; “Shot in the back while sitting in his own house by a British soldier.”

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment at the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, located on Cemetery Ridge.

Later, when I lived in Minnesota, I made a memorable Memorial Day visit to Lakewood Cemetery where many Civil War veterans are laid to rest.  Minnesota is rightfully proud of The First Minnesota (the 1st Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry) which is well known for its gallantry and sacrifices at Gettysburg.  On July 2, 1863, The First Minnesota prevented the Confederates from pushing Union forces off of Cemetery Ridge, contributing to the turning point in a battle that became the turning point in the war.  Their casualty rate (83 percent) represented the largest loss by any surviving military unit in American history during a single engagement.  The few surviving Minnesotans stepped up to fight again the next day helping to repel Picket’s Charge.  The flag of the First Minnesota fell and rose again five times on July 2 and is now on honorable display in the rotunda of the Capital building in St. Paul.

 

 

Arlington graves on Memorial Day

Memorial Day (formerly known as “Decoration Day”) was officially proclaimed five years later.  On May 30, 1868, flowers were formally placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  Since then, the last Monday in May has been dedicated to honoring the men and women of our Armed Services who made “the supreme sacrifice.”  Since 1775, over 1,343,812 Americans have died in combat.  Nearly twice as many have been wounded.  Not counted are those who perished off the battlefield from disease or in training or in transit.  We also must not forget the spouses, parents, children, siblings, extended family and friends whose losses were immeasurable.

Gratitude is impossible without a memory and memories often fade without memorials.  I hope your plan for Memorial Day includes more than just a cookout or block party.  I recommend a respectful trip to a cemetery to pay your respects to a fallen soldier.  Below are a few more recommendations that will help move your heart toward a deeper celebration of Memorial Day:

READINGS:

Movies:

  • Mrs. Miniver (1942 – Dir. William Wyler) with Greer Garson, Walter Pigeon and Teresa Wright. Depicts the war’s effects on family and life in London.
  • Since You Went Away (1944 – Dir. John Cromwell), with Claudette Colbert, Shirley Temple, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotton. The opening frame reads: “This is a story of the unconquerable fortress: the American home, 1943 (war time portrayal of the home front).
  • The White Cliffs of Dover (1944 – Dir. Clarence Brown). Irene Dunne stars as an American who marries a British soldier and faces both world wars, first as a wife, then as a mother
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998 – Dir. Steven Spielberg) with Tom Hanks
 

The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Discussion

  1. Linda McElmurry  May 23, 2012

    This is so nice for you to post this information. My husband was a veteran. He had a hat and shirt that had All gave some Some gave all wrote on it. Thank you Joel.

    (reply)
  2. Mark Henry  May 24, 2012

    Thanks, Joel, for your words to help us reflect on Memorial Day!

    (reply)
  3. Claire  May 25, 2012

    A fitting reminder, Joel–thank you! I do feel grateful. Reading the letters and poems at links above. Maybe I’ll pick up _Mrs. Miniver_ at the library this weekend.

    (reply)
    • Joelsolliday  May 25, 2012

      I think you might like Mrs. Miniver, but you will recognize my penchant for sentiment.

      (reply)

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