Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on May 27, 2013

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.

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2 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 27, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Thanks Phil and a day worth reflection and resolve!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

May 27, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

The Evening Star, May 30, 1902
Praise of the Dead Spoken by Edward Seeds of Iowa

Congressional Cemetery with her green-sodded mounds, her drooping boughs and her fragrant blossoms, threw open her gates this morning to welcome in solemn sadness, yet in hallowed glory, the yearly pilgrimage of that multitude who, enjoying the heritage of a martyred soldiery, bow in loving gratitude at the nation’s shrine of freedom. All day long did those pilgrims tread to this shrine, each bearing a tribute of nature’s beauty, until the mounds over which fluttered the tiny standards, designating them as the hallowed ground of the nation’s dead, were themselves buried in the rich foliage of our choicest blossoms.

Near was the past, brought to the present when the little band of hoary-headed veterans uncovered in the fresh morning air and joined their voices and their hearts in touching praise of those whom they had known so well in life, and whose memory they loved so well in death. Treading to the heat of a muffled drum, not more than twenty veterans of Farragut Post, No. 10, were in line from the post quarters to the cemetery. When they halted before the improvised pavilion at 9:30 they were confronted with a huge pile of blossoms, heaped on the ground by the school children of the southeast section of the city. And when the veterans stooped and gathered up the blossoms in their arms and bore them away to the graves they knew so well they were assisted by the children, who prattled along by their side, realizing only the childish joy of the blossoms, the love for the flags and the sunshine and breeze.

The sound of the bugle, pealing forth the notes of the “assembly” called the little band to attention. Chopin’s Funeral march was rendered by the Washington Light Infantry Band, while the hundreds of citizens scattered throughout the cemetery gathered in a huge circle about the pavilion. With a word of tribute for the dead, and a word of praise for the children, Abraham Hart, junior vice department commander, called the assemblage to order. Then followed the singing by the choir of “Nearer My God to Thee.” The invocation was pronounced by Rev. J.C. Nicholson, who fervently invoked the blessing of God, both on the living and the dead. He voiced the thanks of a grateful nation for the deeds of those who were mourned, and prayed for guidance and strength to carry out the plan of civilization they had made possible for those of this nation to enjoy. He referred touchingly to the widow of the late President, who would alone today place a wreath on the grave of him who was by her side on the last anniversary of this day.

Keller’s “American Hymn” by the choir and the reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address by Mr. Clarence L. Parker followed, when the band played “In Memoriam.” Comrade D.J. Evans gave poetic expression to the hallowed nature of Memorial day by reading a poem he had written for the occasion.

Address of Edward Seeds
Preceding the address of the day by Mr. Edward Seeds of Iowa the choir rendered Stewart’s “Cover Them Over With Beautiful Flowers.” The speaker pictured the nation’s cemeteries as the hallowed spots which were this day associated with the richest memories, which conspired to allay the emotions of passion and dispel the mists of prejudice. Its influence invited our souls and our intellects to contemplate the sacrifices of those who, in the times of our country’s need, offered their lives that a nation rich in great possibilities, might not perish from the earth.

He pictured the army and navy as the physical embodiment of the strength of our people. If that strength was one of virtue and nobleness, then that army and navy would be one whose every battle was for civilization, whose defeat would become a lasting sorrow, and whose victories were prophecies of the millennial dawn. But war was indeed grim visaged; except in its results there were no delights.

The Living Dead
Turning to the blossoming mounds, the speaker declared that the lives they represented were not blotted out–those lives were immortal. We might not know the names of those who rested beneath the sod; the paths in which they had walked were quiet paths; their associations were with the great unknown who constitute our people–but in all those elements which make the hero–self-sacrifice and self-effacement, devotion to noble ideals, courage in the face of death–they had been supreme.

He pictured the old battlefields and pointed out signal deeds of heroism, the glory of which he said has not been dimmed by the splendid victories in Manila Bay and Santiago, nor by the innumerable actions under such overwhelming difficulties in our possessions in the Philippines.

The speaker believed there was more than a far cry in destiny. He asked to be pointed to the time or place where the armies or navies of this nation had ever fought to enslave. Mistakes had been made, no doubt, but no mistakes had ever been persisted in when the American people realized the wrong.

Our country had its birth in the hope of liberty, he concluded, and in the desire for regulated freedom. Its manhood and womanhood had been evolved and educated from and through those eternal principles. Its soldiers and sailors had consciously and grandly, from the very first breath of freedom until this very moment, sustained and enforced those principles. Encouraged by their examples, inspired by the deeds which they have written imperishably upon the walls of our national palace, desirous of performing our present duty honestly and intelligently, we return from this Mount of Transfiguration, renewed for the struggle of our daily existence with a calm faith in the ideals of our fathers, which have been made sacred by your devotion and suffering and glorious by our country’s victories in peace as well as in war.

Other Exercises
Selections of war songs by the band; the singing of “America” by the choir; a benediction and salute, concluded the eremonies.

Submitted 27th May 2013 by Christopher Tingus (chris.tingus@gmail.com), Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA
“Main Street USA”
– Open the White House Doors Now – Our Kids Deserve Better –

Let no man in their partisan ways and in blatant lie as Barry Obama and Hillary Clinton, entrusted by precious vote and commitment to pledge, leaving our brave Patriots at the “Benghazi Massacre” to be so brutally attacked….let none dream that We as a nation are on the course of peace and prosperity for without repentance and restraint from such self-serving dictate and intentional breach in faith, treason, disregard and indifference to our Constitution and our Judeo-Christian principles, our beloved Republic shall Not prosper for God is witness to all….

– Open the White House Doors Now – Our Kids Deserve Better – and let us Not forget the brave Patriots in citizen’s garb on 911 when learning of terrorist plot to pierce our nation’s heart, Our White House, we heard these brave Patriots yell, “Let’s rock ‘n roll” and the doors of the White House would remain open, yet today, their children, their nieces and nephews and their classmates have been shut out of the White House and its portrayal of rich American history closed to them while they peer at White House gate these coming weeks on school trips to Washington, D.C. only to see “rappers” coming out from the White House as we saw last week after another White House party where our temporary eight year guests opened the doors to the White House only to their selected White House guests and damn every one else…for after all, other than past historical slavery issues, little else matters to this half white and Michelle Obama who tell us how ashamed they are of America and We can now see more and more clearly how much disregard they both have for the richness and various cultures and contributors of real Americans whereby it is essential that we have a strong Democracy protected by arsenal and Judeo-Christian principles….

God Bless America! We here on “Main Street USA” are quite proud of all our brave Patriots and of our American history! You can be damned sure of that on this Memorial Day 2013 from Boston Strong!

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