For those interested in homeland security it is worth remembering that Memorial Day emerged from our Civil War — a continuation of politics using other means — when Americans killed at least three-quarter million fellow citizens.
One of the first Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) commemorations was conducted in Charleston, South Carolina, where the first shots of the war had sounded. In May 1865 freed slaves and Northern carpetbaggers (mostly missionaries and teachers) claimed a burial ground of Union prisoners-of-war at what had been the Charleston race track.
They erected a memorial (victory?) arch to which at least 10,000 marched. According to a reporter with the New York Tribune:
At 9 am on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing ‘John Brown’s Body.’ The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathering in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang ‘We’ll Rally around the Flag,’ the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture. No record survives of which biblical passages rung out in the warm spring air, but the spirit of Leviticus 25 was surely present at those burial rites: ‘for it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you … in the year of this jubilee he shall return every man unto his own possession.
Especially on Memorial Day we recognize that, as when used by a surgeon, violence may be needed to remove a cancer and begin the healing. But a politics of persuasion — reasoning and listening and working together — is always preferable to a politics of other means.