Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 3, 2014

Another View: Honor those who have borne battle

It’s a small wonder many Americans don’t spend too much time reflecting on why this is a three-day weekend.

Google Memorial Day 2014 and among the top 10 results is “Save big at the Wal-Mart Memorial Day 2014 event.” Delve a little deeper and discover the 10 best Memorial Day parties in Miami and 12 great travel getaways for the long weekend.

After nearly 150 years of remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice, maybe the day has lost its meaning for some. But ask anyone whose father, son, brother, grandfather, mother, great-uncle gave his or her life for this country and the meaning should resurface immediately.

Approximately 1.2 million Americans have died in service to their country since the American Revolution in 1775.

Visit a cemetery and witness the sea of small flags and bronze markers adorning the graves of those who thus died.

Consider the wars - the Civil War, the World Wars, Korean, Vietnam, the ongoing Global War on Terror.

Consider the words of Frederick Douglass on Decoration Day in 1871.

His words that day, given at the monument to the Unknown Dead of the Civil War at Arlington National Cemetery, still resonate today.

“We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic,” Douglass said. “We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers.”

Those words were spoken just three years after Commander in Chief John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued an order designating May 30 as Decoration Day.

The purpose? “Strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land,” Logan said.

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