The Coffee Shop – ‘We Make Promises’ – In Memoriam

The Coffee Shop is an open thread-style discussion forum for human interest news of the day.


This is an open thread. There are several hosts, each host being responsible for picking a “theme of the day” and starting the discussion. However, there is no hard and fast rule about staying on topic, especially if you have a personal story burning a hole in your pocket trying to escape.

Pictures and videos are welcome in the comments.  If photos are used, please be sure you own the copyright. We would rather see your personal photos anyway, rather than random stuff copied from the internet.  Our only request is that if you use pictures or videos, take pity on those who don’t have broadband, and don’t post more than two or three in a single comment.

Coffee cup

This is an Open Thread. Grab your cup, pull up a chair, sit a spell and share what’s on your mind today.

On May 30, 1868, General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed the first major observance to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers.

On that first wide-spread Decoration Day, Ohio Congressman James A. Garfield, who had served as a Major General in the war, made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, in james a garfieldwhich he said:

…With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept; plighted faith may be broken; and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. For the noblest man that lives, there still remains a conflict. He must still withstand the assaults of time and fortune, must still be assailed with temptations, before which lofty natures have fallen; but with these the conflict ended, the victory was won, when death stamped on them the great seal of heroic character, and closed a record which years can never blot…

A crowd of 5,000 heard him speak, and then decorated the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

By the late 19th century, many communities across America celebrated Memorial Day. After World War I, the dead from all of America’s wars were being honored. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is now marked at Arlington National Cemetery by the placing of a small American flag on each grave.


Emily Dickinson

(582)Emily_Dickinson portrait

Inconceivably solemn!
Things go gay Pierce —
by the very Press Of Imagery —

Their far Parades — order on the eye
With a mute Pomp —
A pleading Pageantry —

Flags, are a brave sight —
But no true Eye
Ever went by One —
Steadily —

Music’s triumphant —
But the fine Ear Winces with delight
Are Drums too near —


The Battlefield

They dropped like flakes,
they dropped like stars,Civil War era Medal of Honor
Like petals from a rose,
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers goes.
They perished in the seamless grass, —
No eye could find the place;
But God on his repealless list
Can summon every face.



My Triumph lasted till the
Drums Had left the Dead alone
And then I dropped my Victory
And chastened stole along
To where the finished FacesCivil War Drum painted Wayne White 1940
Conclusion turned on me
And then I hated Glory
And wished myself were They.

What is to be is best descried
When it has also been —
Could Prospect taste of Retrospect
The tyrannies of Men Were Tenderer — diviner
The Transitive toward.
A Bayonet’s contrition Is nothing to the Dead.


Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer. We break out the sunscreen and the floppy hats, and celebrate with BBQs and water pistol fights, with trips to our lakes and oceans, and to our amusement parks (though some parts of the country are still getting March weather this month.)

Most families do remember their honored dead from America’s wars in the 20th and 21st century. But the dead from wars before then are only names obscured on headstones by the weathering of time. So on this day, we should take a moment to look at some faces from the past, and remember their service.

Memorial Day is not about the ‘glory’ of war, but about its cost.

American Civil War (April 1861 – May 1865):


 According to the 1860 census, there were 3,950,528 slaves in the United States just before the Civil War.

The death toll for the Civil War has been estimated somewhere between 600,000 and 750,000. Over 300,000 combatants died from disease.


Surgeons performed over 60,000 amputations. Initially, ‘the empty sleeve’ was a mark of honor, and amputees were granted pensions. Yet by the 1880s, while the Civil War dead were still much honored, the aging disabled veterans were increasingly ignored, or lambasted as money-grubbers.

Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. A total of 7,863 men were killed in three days.


It is estimated that at least 90,000 Union soldiers were boys under 15 years old and about 20 percent of all Civil War soldiers were under 18.

Spanish American War (April 1898 – August 1898):

On April 21, 1898, the United States declared war against Spain. Future Secretary of State John Hay described the conflict as a “splendid little war.” 


The war lasted less than 3 months and resulted in Cuba’s “independence” as well as the U.S. annexing Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. It was started in part by the relentless drumbeat of yellow journalism after the explosion and sinking of the USS Maine. It also made Teddy Roosevelt a national hero.

Spanish American War medical corpsman

Between 2,500 and 5,000 Americans in uniform died from disease, mostly Yellow Fever, during this war.

An estimated 650 to 700 Americans were killed under fire in the Spanish American War.


The Spanish-American War was notable for the introduction of smaller-caliber, high-velocity, metal-jacketed bullets. The metal-jacket bullet was supposed to produce less massive damage, but turned out to be worse than the infamous Minié ball used in the Civil War.




  • James A. Garfield
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Civil War era Medal of Honor
  • Civil War Drum painting by Wayne White (1940)
  • Black Union Soldier
  • Three Civil War Amputees
  • Very Young Civil War Soldier
  • Spanish American War Soldiers
  • Spanish American War Medical Corpsman
  • Spanish American War Soldier

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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2 Responses to The Coffee Shop – ‘We Make Promises’ – In Memoriam

  1. Thank you, Nona.

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    Thank you too Joy

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