Monday, May 28, 2007

A Fine Essay about Memorial Day

At National Review Online is a wonderful essay about Memorial Day by W. Thomas Smith, Jr. Mr. Smith is described at the foot of the article as "A former U.S. Marine infantry leader, W. Thomas Smith Jr. writes about military issues and has covered war in the Balkans, on the West Bank, and in Iraq. He is the author of six books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications." The essay is called "It's Not Political" and gives some history of the day and also some thoughtful comments.

An excerpt:
Point being: no matter what flags Americans have served under — or causes they have fought for — since initially choosing between the colonies and the Crown back in 1775, all are indeed Americans.

And most of them have fought less over the politics of a given conflict and more from the sheer fact that they were the ones responsible for defending the homeland or its interests abroad when politics and diplomacy had broken down.
One of the oft-told stories of the American Civil War is one in which a U.S. Army officer asks a young Confederate soldier, who had just been taken prisoner by Union forces, if he (the Confederate) owned slaves. When the prisoner said no, the officer asked why he was fighting on the side of the rebellion. The Confederate matter-of-factly responded, “Because you’re here.”

Sounds simple, but for the Confederate soldier, taking up arms against the enemy had nothing really to do with politics or such lofty mid-19th-century issues as slavery and its abolition. It had everything to do with the fact that his country had been attacked. And if his fellow countrymen were going to shoulder weapons and march against the enemy, how could he not?
“Memorial Days began very soon after the war, and concurrently by both Northern and Southern groups,” Joe Long, curator of education at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, tells National Review Online. “There’s a book entitled Race and Reunion that claims that the very first Memorial Day service was held by black Americans in honor of Union soldiers.”

Long adds that Northern and Southern observances were organized by ladies’ memorial associations. “Those early memorial services were very much driven by women.”
I hope you will take the time to read and ponder this essay.

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At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Pop said...

You fight for each other, because at that moment that's all you've got.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Mary A said...

Most of us can't really understand how it is, not having been in that position. Important to remember.


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